The above eBooks are freebies available at jessINK ;)
Included below is a 2,700-word email I received from somebody (I’ll call the person X19 here) who read Real Love Vs. Romance (my freebie eBook of informal essays on real love vs. the messages sent out by the mainstream media).
I have some outspoken and “controversial” (because they’re very “in-your-face” honest) freebies floating around because
(a) I do feel very strongly about certain things re: media & society, and
(b) I find some of the messages in massively popular works to be absolutely appalling and unhealthy (in particular, Twilight and 50 Shades).
No, not everyone has to agree with me, but I can’t expect anyone else to “state their own honest views” if I don’t do so myself first.
I’m not against romance novels per se. But I am against toxic messages packaged as “harmless” entertainment.
As a very good/sensible/intelligent/talented/capable/mature/respectable/noble friend of mine recently said to me:
“Also remember: when people get defensive it is often a sign that they sense that the object of their adoration is not as good as they try to convince themselves. So calling it like it is, is only fair.”
I’ll be doing some (non-explicit non-taboo) psychological thriller/suspense projects soon.
I still intend to call it like it is, in those new works :P
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Email from Reader / X19:
I enjoyed reading your essay on real love versus the mass-media ideals/concepts which exist to further an idea, control your thoughts/feelings (mould you), and make a profit: the modern ideal of “romance”.
I was wondering, do you think that the institutionalisation we undergo via the education system has anything to account for in regards to some people’s notion of positive approval equating to worthwhile-ness (personal and of their actions/thoughts)?
In primary school, you are “taught” to conform. You are taught to consider the aim and “good” of the group (classroom/school) in favour of your own personal feelings and aims. You obey your teacher (just because) and look at them as your leader and the person you go to for direction, instructions and children often end up feeling like their teacher is their second parent or something akin to a good (older, wiser) friend. Plus, when you do good work, you might get a sticker or a stamp, which is the signal that you conformed/met expectations/did good, which is both attuning you to aesthetics (pretty stuff) and materialism (things you have) in unhealthy ways. You don’t just feel good because you achieved something, you don’t even think of it that way unless someone else tells you it’s okay (or to feel good). In relations to romantic relationships later on in life, I think the systematisation/institutionalisation of places like schools have a lot to answer for, and that’s not even going into the dynamics of the interactions between the students and what is seen as appropriate/okay and what isn’t, or the structuring according to ages (and/or gender), or any of that. It’s just something I was wondering about, really. Because school is such a large part of our interaction with others at that age, it has to have some kind of effect, and I, personally, never really realised how large an effect it had had on me until I left (high) school and then it just felt like a huge slap over the face (or a bucket of cold water was thrown on me).
Anyhow, I went to a public school, in which I imagine there isn’t as much pressure on you to do well, as an individual. Like, we didn’t really have guidance counsellors (in high school) or anyone who’d get on our back if we were falling behind, loads of the students did, we only had a school nurse who wasn’t really approachable if you were old fashioned and believed you went to school because that was what you did and pretty much the law. The school nurse wasn’t someone I could see as a friend or fellow equal and I now have a flinch about people like that (because I felt it my duty to be honest when they asked questions, or stayed quiet to allow you to say something, and I didn’t know about this thing called selective truth which would have made things easier and less stressful in the sense that the school nurse (in my opinion) didn’t want to help so much as do her job the way she’d been told to do it so she could get whatever she wanted out of the position, e.g. money, perceived respect, authority, feeling like she’d done “good”). Though I didn’t respect her so much as obey because it was what you did (she actually frightened me because it felt as though she was more into her own agenda as opposed to helping me, which is frightening for a young person with no experience at “bending the truth” or just telling people enough so as to keep them happy).
My opinion is that school is where a lot of damage you don’t really realise has been done is done because it’s where a lot of interaction with other people happens (as stated above) and also you “learn” to “navigate” the system there, to some extent, or at least you learn if you’re going to be someone who falls down, who floats somewhere in the middle, or who excels above the others. The problem is — or was, for me — was that nobody said (to the best of my recollection) that that was what it was, that it wasn’t just the academic stuff we were learning but about our people/life skills too, and about the person we “wanted” or “could” be. A lot of the time, I didn’t even know I could have my own opinions, because your own feelings were supposed to be left out of it all. And there was no real discussion about morals or spirituality (as in spiritual/personal growth): other people told you what was right and wrong and you were expected to parrot it back to them with a reasonable level of conviction, I suppose, if you agreed or not because it wasn’t your place to make those sorts of judgements.
I’m rambling; I’ll stop. I don’t know, it’s just some stuff I was wondering about in the sense of how it all affects the “finished product” as system would most want you to be: a decisive, productive member of society/the community, who didn’t drag other people or the system down for any reason but conformed in all ways (= least hassle).
I guess the big thing could just be that I wasn’t a big socialiser, but I don’t really know because nobody who is/was a real “people person” really talks to me and some of this stuff is just tedious to talk about with other people when they don’t see the reason why they should even think about “society as a whole” and “where it’s all going”, because, I don’t know, that’s not the done thing for young people these days. Or if they think they are entitled to their slack attitude and uncouthness because “older” people don’t consider them “real” people and equals anyway, so why should they bash their head against the wall for a losing cause when they can do something else, or act out instead (as they don’t have any other option or it’s just not as appealing and generally more taxing and “uncool”/boring). (Attitude of the young people I talked to in a course I was doing last year who were inconsiderate, rude and seemed to enjoy being so.)
I know they like to say it’s parents who aren’t “policing” their kids, or “teaching” them right (and right from wrong), but the parents aren’t allowed in the classroom, are they, and they’re not even allowed to discipline their child these days (legally, even, for instance, telling them they did something wrong and that their “extra” privileges were being revoked for a time, because the kid could say anything and get them in trouble for it without realising that if they were taken away and placed with some other people who actually didn’t care about them (but the money/system’s ideals), they’d probably have it a lot harder). I don’t believe in brutalisation or psychological or emotional harm, but if someone does something wrong and nobody says it’s wrong, how are they supposed to know? Or if people just let them get away with it time and again because it’s too hard, too much effort, a waste of their time, or not their business? And I think it’s also the same with helping the person develop individualism and their own sense of ethics that are going to stick with them. They have to know they are individuals and the avenue exists for them to decide for themselves (within the parameters of the law), and schools don’t really accommodate for that, in my opinion. Even if the parents do, the kids go off to school and are told they have to fall into line, so all of that goes somewhat out the window if the kid doesn’t wanted to be branded a nuisance, troublemaker (unless they already have a very solid grasp of themselves and feel safe, secure, ethical with “bending the truth” some of the time, to please the school).
Eesh, but I’ll stop now.
It’s a relief to know there are people really thinking about the issues today, even in today’s fiction. You have to open people’s eyes somehow, so they can decide for themselves the person they want to be rather than being merely forced into it because that’s the way it goes and always has. Fiction seems a good medium for this because it enables the writer to engage the readers’ emotionally and in a lasting way and a way that, when they come across similar incidents in their own lives, the ideas set in motion in the stories they read will resonate in their mind and a realisation will dawn. That’s why it’s so dangerous when people/groups manipulate the popular (fiction/film/music) market/supply for their own ends which may or may not be unscrupulous or deliberately inconsiderately frivolous, AKA “light”, numbing, or brain-washing.
I agree. Something does need to be done about the general public’s lack of awareness of these fundamental issues that underpin a lot of other, “bolder” issues even if they aren’t generally thought of as affecting such things. The fact is, they do, and that’s where the great possibility for harm lies.
Sadly, increasingly the young people of today with some level of “opportunity” are in such as mad dash to get their “money’s worth” that they don’t realise the sort of person they are allowing themselves to become, or who they might otherwise be, as opposed to the glamour-filled “ideal” that they are told to strive for at very turn in today’s modern societies.
X19 / Only slightly disillusioned, more or less anti-social, but still “one of us”… I think… Well, I try. Though sometimes I just get “sick” of being a “robot” and “shut down”. :) (I realise I have “real”, “serious” issues that require work, but sometimes it’s hard finding the motivation/courage/wherewithal, especially with the negative pressure of one’s former indoctrination (initiation into the “whole”/system) adding to the mix of woes. You sometimes just think, Ugh, I can’t!/am too tired. Worse is when people actively oppose you: Why are you even thinking about that? That’s not the main focus here, et cetera.)
PS: In your opinion, is there much hope for a “brighter” future for humankind – a more spiritual, enlightened, attuned future, that is? I am in two minds, myself. I’d like to think there is hope (to still hold hope), but with everything you hear/see/read about these days, it seems to be a losing battle in many cases. To me, not that I think we should merely conform or surrender because “it’s a losing battle anyway”, but just out of interest’s sake and to know where a person stands in the world, it would be good to know and to be kept apprised to the world outlook. I guess they must have television programmes, forums, magazines et cetera that deal with just this kind of thing. Perhaps you might know of/suggest a few?
PPS: I am also interested in alternative health care/management, though I don’t know a lot about it. I’ve heard of naturopathy, ayurveda, herbalism, et cetera, and I have some of Hulda Clark’s books (some people actually “hate” her, I’m getting the sense), but there’s still a big push by the (crazy-rich) pharmaceutical companies to “gloss over” or “shun” other forms of treatment and lifestyle choices.
PPPS: The psychological aspect of your stories is often rather enlightening to a certain character’s “being”, though I guess some people read for “entertainment” rather than knowledge or to provoke their thoughts. This is where it can become hard for a writer to walk the line between what a reader might see as too much “clutter” (which is boring) and getting the “meat and bones” of the story’s underpinning message across. Sometimes it’s necessary to “expound” because not all readers are inclined to “think deeper”, e.g. they read primarily for the “romance”, the adventure and the distraction (escapism) and to relive memorable/fun experiences they may or may not have had yet but have been told to want and strive for, thus making them even more confused when reality lands in their laps in a slightly different way to the manner they’d always imagined/expected (e.g. been deluded into believing).
PPPPS: (Twilight rant) / In regards to Twilight, this is one of the problems, I think: It *is* a story for entertainment, but for the people who really connect with it for whom it becomes more than merely a story, how healthy is it when you wonder what would have happened to Bella had Edward not come along (what sort of person/zombie would she have (perhaps unwittingly) allowed herself to stay) and what kind of quality of life would that have given her, in the long run? Although, arguably, she’s still as much a zombie but merely with an addiction she is now slave to (Edward) and believes her quality of life is improved by (not to bash on men/Edward is rather her “slave” also, to the exclusion of other “matters”). The effort he makes isn’t because he wants to, but because Bella needs him to (and makes him, in a way). He thinks he’s already damned and therefore it would be ludicrous/disrespectful/monstrous to pretend to be anything else, though why he can’t see that the world doesn’t end with one damning, and neither does one’s personal connection with the universe/life/towards redemption or the becoming of a “better” person in one’s own eyes as much as other people’s (e.g. quality of life/morality), I guess I’ll never know. Are Bella and Edward good for one another, in more than just the sense that they “make each other happy”? I’m not entirely sold. Am I interested to see the outcome of their “story”?
Well, yeah, I can admit to being a puppet/probable instrument of moral decline too. Maybe Edward should also learn to admit this, and forgive himself, so he can move on to more constructive pursuits in regards to the rest of his “life”, and that of his “soul mate”. Heck, he is the elder, and Bella certainly needs (helpful) guidance. / I was quietly appalled when Bella merely allowed the Volturi to “murder” Bree. Yeah, because that’s justice/justified! It seems to me Bella is blind to anything she doesn’t really want to see, that would clash with the ideal/romantic life she imagines for herself, which is only all the more romantic for *her* personal tragedies/uphill battles. Bella is selfish and shouldn’t Edward know better, having seen so much of life? If he loves her so much and cares about her “soul”, maybe he should chew on that. Who is this person that he loves/would do anything to protect? Never mind the child, what about his precious Bella? Sometimes I think Edward is being hoodwinked and Bella is also hoodwinking herself along with Edward (and Edward’s “parents” allow that because they want him to be a good little vamp and member of the family/society. Am I being too mean? Probably. But heck!, they need to engage and interact in a more thoughtful manner, not just making crazy sacrifices for one another just because they “feel” like it’s right. Then they don’t really “see” one another, only the image/ideal they want to see, and how can that be anything like “real” (or “true”) love? Dangerous devotion, obsession, and worship maybe, but not true love. I think they both just live a little too much “in the moment” and for themselves and keep looking back at their own individual/minute experience for fulfilment and a sense of purpose rather than encompassing the wider picture in their thoughts/sense of self. We do not only experience the world/life through the things we can control, but also through those that that we can’t (which don’t always have to be negative/bad things).
Lastly: In today’s (so brave, and so new) world, we are not all intended to be thinkers; that would just mess everything up. We are, however, intended to conform, assimilate, and “act” / “be” human.
Anyway, thanks for offering the chance for your readers to connect with you online and chat about various things, and I wish you all the best with your work, works and personal journey in the universe and life.
I have officially stopped. So proud of myself. :)
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