evil

E.B. White & Winding the Clock
anarchy | apocalyptic | beauty | dystopian | evil | excellence | freedom | friends | gratitude | happiness | hard work | healing | hope | kindness | love | maturity | real friends | redemption | spiritual teachings | vulnerability | wholeness

E.B. White & Winding the Clock

Of late things have been hard. 

My heart is broken. Broken again, for the 3477th time this life.

“Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time,” wrote E. B. White, to a despairing Mr. Nadeau. The actual first paragraph of White’s letter said:

“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.”

I must say, on this journey, I have met some extraordinary people. Amazing, wonderful people. They hail from disparate walks of life, different races, different cultural backgrounds. Some  are immigrants, no two from the same country of origin.

They share a love for Freedom.

They are passionate. They are quirky. They are independent. They tend to be wildly intelligent and creative and brimming with life.

They tend to be honest.

Right now some feel inconsolable.

I feel fortunate to have encountered these souls, who are all, as I am, beset with difficult feelings.

People I considered friends have shown their true colors. I know now who really has my back. It’s painful and it’s good.

I counseled some lovely friends: “We must think of ourselves as the Londoners during the War. They thought God had forgotten them. God-Goddess-All-that-Is hadn’t forgotten them then, and hasn’t forgotten us now.”

But E.B. White that masterful wordsmith said it better:

It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.

So tomorrow I will rise too early, as always. Luminate coffee with coconut creamer and coconut sugar, beguiling and delicious. I will wind the clock.

Hope
My Letter to Portland Mayor Tom Wheeler
anarchy | criminal behavior | dystopian | errors | evil | harassment | horror | tragedy

My Letter to Portland Mayor Tom Wheeler

I emailed this letter to Portland Mayor Tom Wheeler

Dear Mayor Wheeler,

Like millions of Americans, I am shocked by the violence of Antifa in Portland, Oregon.

In particular, I am horrified at the assault on journalist Andy Ngo.

But the trouble in Portland has been going on for a while.

My husband and I have been hearing reports of how bad things are in your city. Last spring when our daughter in her last year of medical school was creating her list for internship and residency, we counseled her against Portland. She has a close childhood friend in Portland, and she liked the program where she interviewed, but we advised her to look elsewhere to complete her medical training.

We discussed with her how Antifa controlled Portland and harassed citizens who were not in line with their radical beliefs. That was before Antifa attacked Andy Ngo.

I said, “Antifa is an aggressive, psychopathic militia—like the Brown Shirts under the Nazis. Don’t be fooled by their claims of trying to help the unfortunate. They are an intolerant and totalitarian group of enforcers who use violence to achieve their goals. And they are being condoned by the Mayor and the governance of Portland. You deserve a safe and peaceful city for your medical training.”

She is a fine student and a splendid doctor and she was matched to her first choice: it was NOT Portland.

For your consideration, I am a registered Democrat. So is my husband.

I wanted to let you know that there are consequences for Portland when a group of thugs controls the city. Wise people avoid Portland.

Sincerely,

Traci L. Slatton

Latest on the HuffPo: The Phenomenon of Lashing Out
criminal behavior | errors | evil | kindness | language | Uncategorized

Latest on the HuffPo: The Phenomenon of Lashing Out

Here’s my latest on the Huffington Post, an article about The Phenomenon of Lashing Out

Trolls, Harassers, Haters, and Shamers: The Phenomenon of Lashing Out

I promote my books. For one novel, I hired a publicist who turned out engaging press releases. She sent them to me for approval and then emailed them to every contact on her extensive list. She sent out dozens. That’s what I paid her to do and she was a responsible publicist.

A junior editor looked at one release, decided I thought I was better than other authors, and initiated a Twitter shaming campaign that lasted about eight hours.

It struck out of the blue. Suddenly my Twitter feed lit up with nasty tweets, many personal, directed at me. It was shocking and confusing. It took me a while to figure out what was going on. Then I did the best damage control I could.

I can only imagine how horrible a longer Twitter shame-barrage would have been. Eight hours was enough to leave me with a few weeks of mild PTSD. I never understood the point of the shaming episode. What pleasure did the junior editor and her cohorts take in such scathing nastiness? What did they hope to accomplish beyond making me feel badly? I certainly never felt that I was better than other authors, though I will balance that by saying that I have worked hard over the decades to write thousands of pages of prose. I take pride in whatever craftsmanship I accomplish.

A very different episode. I went to pick up my daughter at her bus stop. As a writer, I work out of a small home office. I seldom dress up for that. I brushed my teeth that morning and swiped on sun block–that was the extent of my ablutions. I trotted to the bus stop in my usual stinky yoga clothes.

At the bus stop waited an attractive young African American woman. I sidled up to her and casually chatted, the way parents do.

She suddenly snapped, “I’m not the nanny! I’m the mom!”

Given the current racial tensions, I must preface my remarks by saying that this was a bus stop for a private school in Manhattan. I am sure that this well-turned-out young woman had been mistaken for the nanny. Probably more than once. Few of the private schools here are as well integrated as one would hope. Most are putting honest effort into greater diversity.

On this particular occasion, this young woman correctly noted the calculation in my eyes. Then she incorrectly interpreted it. Yes, I certainly did look at her and make a judgment. But it wasn’t the one she projected onto me.

I was thinking, “Traci, look how nice she looks. You need to dress better. You don’t have to come to the bus stop looking like a schlub. For pete’s sake, woman, take twenty minutes to make yourself presentable.”

I think women of any race will relate to this self-criticism. But until the other mother spoke up, the issue of race had never occurred to me. It was about me looking dowdy.

At the time, I was surprised and flustered. I murmured something like “That’s what I thought.” I felt badly for this woman whose life experience had brought her to this point of assuming that another mom was judging her when I was only judging myself.

Another example. Now I confess to a certain tolerance for unconventional people. There are many worthy trapezoidal pegs; I don’t want to force them into square holes. Unfortunately, this attitude means that sometimes nutters slip inside my sphere. I did business with one such. My husband and a friend gleaned that this person was shaky; they warned me. I didn’t heed them. I should have, because when I made a decision this person didn’t like, they sent me dozens of crazed, threatening emails full of violent imagery. I blogged about this before, because I was helped by an organization called haltabuse.org that works to stop email harassment.

What these painful and bewildering episodes have in common is the phenomenon of projection. The Twitterers, the other mom, and the business fruitcake took something within themselves and projected it outward onto me. I knew this intellectually at the time, but it didn’t solace me. I had to work with myself to return to my center in the face of the onslaught. I think, for the Shamers and the Harasser, that’s what they wanted: to hurt me.

Obviously the mom felt that she was standing up for herself. Though she was projecting onto me, my interaction with her fits into a different category because she didn’t intend to cause harm. Nor did I feel hurt by her. I felt surprised, then I felt compassion.

Indeed, what continually surprises me about our culture now is how little compassion there is, and how widespread the phenomenon of lashing out has become. It often goes along with high self-righteous indignation that reeks of self-pleasuring. I have come to believe that self-righteous indignation is best enjoyed in private.

Recently my husband sculptor Sabin Howard came into the spotlight when he, with architect-in-training Joe Weishaar, won the WW1 Memorial design competition. Someone used social media to disparage Sabin, claiming that Sabin’s beautiful neoclassical works were “Nazi-like.”

The irony is that Sabin is at least one-quarter Jewish. His grandmother was a German Jew. His mother is Italian and I will never forget the dinner when Zio Carlo, upon hearing that I am Jewish, leaned over and whispered, “Ours is an Italian Jewish name. We are descended from Jews who were forcibly converted.”

One hater posted a video of Sabin sculpting in a friend’s studio as “proof” that Sabin’s work is Nazi-esque. But this studio belonged to a dear friend who happens to be gay and recently married to his long time partner. Since Sabin is famed for his male nudes, which are sublimely beautiful but not eroticized, we have, in our inner circle, many cherished gay friends. The Nazis would not have appreciated Sabin’s Jewish heritage nor his inclusiveness. Nor, I dare say, his Jewish wife.

I remain proud of Sabin’s neoclassicism. Beauty is beauty; we don’t have to allow a single ideal of beauty to languish as the province of murderous sociopaths. I wouldn’t give the Nazis that satisfaction.

Ultimately, I don’t want to give satisfaction to those who lash out, either. But it’s worth noting that negative projection causes pain. We are all human beings here, even if social media and email allow for depersonalization and anonymity. “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” Indeed we all do.

Phenomenon of Lashing Out

Terminator Genisys: A Review
5 star review | anarchy | apocalyptic | art | criminal behavior | evil | freedom | movies | terrorism

Terminator Genisys: A Review

Go see this movie, it’s GREAT!

Now that my loyalty has been assuaged, let me discuss the movie more thoughtfully.

This latest addition to the franchise pays loving homage to the first Terminator. For people like me who are fans of the first Terminator, that’s a beatific thing. There were moments…lines…scenes…that made me cheer, because they precisely evoked the first Terminator.

The first Terminator is a perfect movie. Artistically speaking, it was extremely well done. I’m talking as a writer now, as a professional storyteller. The first movie has no loose ends, no extraneous moments, no extra dialogue, no unnecessary anything, no flab whatsoever. The entire movie argues to the specific value that machines can never be human.

What’s the name of the bar where Kyle Reese first reveals himself to Sarah Connor, when he saves her? Tech Noir. What’s on the answering machine for Sarah and her roommate? “Machines need love too….” Nope, they don’t. That’s the point. Machines don’t need love…they never feel remorse or pity. Machines are not human.

Machines will destroy humanity.

The original casting of Arnold Shwartzenegger as the Terminator was brilliant. As a young dude, he was so buffed up on lifting and steroids that he didn’t look human. He looked like a machine–like living tissue over metal endoskeleton.

In Terminator Genisys, Arnold looks…old but not obsolete. Never obsolete. No, never. I don’t care how many children he sires out of wedlock. As the Terminator, he can be gray, but he will always be relevant.

This movie was fun, and it had appropriate slow moments, too. What I mean is that, in order to be satisfying, movies need to flow between heightened intensity and lowered intensity. What I see lately–even in Mad Max Fury Road, which I enjoyed, [HELLO: CHARLIZE THERON, YOU ARE MY QUEEN!!!] is that too many movies are one long chase with explosions, boobs, and cars. Not good.

You get that kind of crap when you have too many suits involved in the process. Those people should not give a creative opinion. They should keep their traps shut and count beans. They should not try to weigh in on art–because when they do, they destroy art.

Terminator Genisys had moments of reflection and pause to balance and heighten the moments of wild over-the-top intensity. Someone exercised a little bit of control over those stupid suits.

My husband didn’t love the movie as I did. He’s not a fan of the first Terminator, that perfect movie. He asked me, “Why do you like those kinds of after-the-world-ends movies?”

Fair question.

Since I was a kid, I’ve looked around and noticed the insanity and evil in the world at large. Genocide. Monsanto. Bio-engineered fruits and vegetables that look good but taste like crap. Terminator genes. The unrepentant, unbridled financial ambition of large, multinational corporations that function as sovereign nation states without oversight or accountability.

The apocalypse is coming and it will be unleashed by one of these companies.

Am I really the one person who sees Google in Genisys? The head of Google says they come up to the line of being creepy but don’t cross over. I disagree. It is my personal opinion that Google crosses right over. Data mining is the latest iteration of EVIL. Big Brother is watching: Brought to you by Google.

I think Google is Genisys is Skynet.

So I am attracted to these themes because I see them being played out in front of our eyes.

Few people care. As long as they have the latest iPhone, Netflix, Spotify, and access to marijuana, they don’t question what is really going on.

A stoner is a subject, not a citizen.

The suits are winning. In the real world and in the making of movies.

Go see Terminator Genisys. And think about it.

Terminator Genisys

Sociopaths
anarchy | criminal behavior | evil | psychosis | special | vulnerability

Sociopaths

A man I know got involved with a sociopath, woke up to it, and is finally divesting himself of this person. It’s not easy, of course. Those people don’t want to be divested.

By ‘sociopath’ I mean an empty shell of a person who uses flattery, cajoling promises, manipulation, deceit, backstabbing, and slimy, underhanded maneuvering to insinuate themselves into other people’s lives, all while accomplishing absolutely NOTHING and giving NOTHING back. This person is an energy vampire, the kind of bloodsucker who leaves other people feeling exhausted and debilitated.

This person stayed in our home and I was horrified at how this person sucked my energy.

This person’s entire game is to talk, talk, talk while NOT moving ahead. The image is of a car stuck in the mud. This person is standing by the car, watching the wheels spin uselessly–and then acting like a spider with a sticky web to catch people so they are forced to watch the tires spin, too.

It was debilitating to be in this person’s presence. Even when the flattery for me was spun, I was put off. I didn’t fall for it for one second. It was all I could do to keep a straight face–this person was a guest in my home, I was NOT going to be confrontational.

Months ago I said, “Don’t you see, this person uses flattery to get in and makes promises that fall flat? It’s all talk. It’s all bullshit. It’s all empty dreamy spin doctoring. Nothing is ever accomplished. Nothing ever comes through. It’s all failure draped in sweet dreamy words.”

I had my own experience with a borderline personality disorder/sociopath last spring so I was extra sensitive to the behavior. Unfortunately, the man used that experience to dismiss my concerns.

But I wasn’t the only concerned individual. A person who knew the sociopath personally and lives in the same community called the man. This person said, “Look, there’s stuff going on that makes me uncomfortable. I think you should be aware. I think this person is insinuating themselves into your business in unwholesome ways. I think this person wants to control your business. Be aware.”

Other people commented, noting the oddities and inconsistencies in the sociopath’s rendering of things. This person was clearly distorting conversations that pertained to the man, and was clearly using the man’s work as a means to ingratiate themselves into the good graces of well-known people.

It was obvious. And slimy.

But the man didn’t want to see it. Perhaps he couldn’t. One of this man’s best qualities is that he is a straight arrow: No games ever. No mental manipulation. No bullshit. What this man says he will do, he does–no more, no less. He is absolutely straightforward that way. There are no hidden agendas. What you see is what you get with him. He says what he means and he means what he says. There’s no guessing involved.

It was a great relief to me to deal with someone so straightforward after being married to a major game player. Life is too short for power hungry game playing that insecure people engage in as a means of pumping up their self image.

But this man’s kind of honesty has its pitfalls, too. Namely, not seeing when other people aren’t as honorable, aren’t as straightforward. A kind of childish naiveté that insists on believing that everyone else is as straightforward and decent as he is.

But then it became so egregious that even this man had to see what other people and I had been trying to tell him.

Unfortunately, the situation is ever more complicated. The sociopath is involved with a person who is making introductions for the man–and who obviously has romantic feelings for the (married) sociopath.

Life is complex. Dealing with these untrustworthy, underhanded persons isn’t easy.

Sociopaths

 

Citizenfour: The Most Important Movie You Will Ever See
anarchy | criminal behavior | dystopian | evil | freedom | horror | movies | politics | psychosis | review | special | terrorism | vulnerability

Citizenfour: The Most Important Movie You Will Ever See

I recently finished a WWII novel, and I’m still researching the era for another, very different novel set during the same time period. Since one of my closest friends is a Bavarian woman whom I know to be a person of integrity, heart, courage, compassion, and grace, I was curious: how did the NSDAP come to control Germany so completely that its citizens would commit atrocities? So that atrocities would be legalized?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that the NSDAP under Adolf Hitler legalized the illegal. They made laws to force their citizens to participate in the killing of Jews, Poles, the Romany, Socialists, Communists, and anyone who disagreed with the Nazi party. They made laws to enforce the killing and sterilization of children and adults with physical “imperfections” such as mental retardation.

So the Nazi party in Germany created a legal system based on hatred and killing. To enforce this legal system, they instituted a series of Party overseers, one in every community, to make sure that people remained “Loyal” to the party. This was the state police, the Gestapo. The Gestapo surveilled every German citizen, collecting vast files of information about German individuals. There was no “privacy” because the German State was everything.

Every dictatorship surveilles its population as a method of controlling its subjects. This is pointed out in CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras’ film about Ed Snowden.

Admittedly, from the beginning, I have considered Snowden a hero. There is no justification for the massive, George-Orwell-1984-Big-Brother spying on citizens in which the United States intelligence services participate. It is an outright breach and invasion of privacy, ethics, and all things good and true.

Our government, the United States government under Barack Obama, is participating in–perhaps perfecting–the exact same tactics employed by Hitler and the Nazi party: Watch every citizen. Scrutinize every private individual. Know what every single person in the State is thinking, saying, and doing. It’s all about information linking, you see.

I know this because I have been researching the Gestapo.

I happened to be at a showing of Citizenfour at Lincoln Plaza after which Poitras appeared for a Q & A. No, she doesn’t know if she’s been followed, but she expects that the US Government would use skilled personnel to follow her. She has been told that all her electronic communication “lights up like a Christmas tree” in the offices where electronic communication is collected and followed.

Poitras was composed, articulate, and expressive. She said that Snowden was exactly as portrayed in the movie: articulate and collected, trying to teach her, Glenn, and Ewan what was most important in the information he gave them.

Some people consider Snowden a traitor. Consider the White Rose in Germany, which consisted of students at the University of Munich and their professor. They had an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign to inform the German public of what was actually being done to Jews and to call the Nazi government to question.

Here is what Wikipedia says of them:

White Rose survivor Jürgen Wittenstein described what it was like to live in Hitler’s Germany: “The government – or rather, the party – controlled everything: the news media, arms, police, the armed forces, the judiciary system, communications, travel, all levels of education from kindergarten to universities, all cultural and religious institutions. Political indoctrination started at a very early age, and continued by means of the Hitler Youth with the ultimate goal of complete mind control. Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology.”

The White Rose was considered traitorous, too. So they were executed.

And “Ultimate goal of mind control” can only be the reason for the NSA’s total surveillance of the American population, including hundreds of millions of completely loyal American citizens.

How long before the US government insists on the same kind of control? All in the name of “protecting” American citizens from terrorists?

Just as the Gestapo was protecting German citizens from Judeo-Bolshevik enemies.

The most important concept in the movie was one that Snowden articulated: that the NSA’s actions change the balance of power so that it’s not elected-officials and electorate, it’s now rulers and those who are ruled.

See the movie. Think about the United States government, which is acting like a bully and a dictatorship.

Citizenfour