What Not to Include


Being a writer sometimes means saying shit you just don’t think the masses will agree with and letting them disagree. Going with the flow, with the grain of the wood, is always the safer avenue to take, but isn’t necessarily the one your moral sled dogs will leap at.

Here’s a bit of me on some topics that are bouncing around our current social consciousness. The caveat emptor here is that I don’t know about any of it. I’m not by any means au courant on the scholarly articles addressing these issues, but I also know that no one has to be. I’ll just be the writer, do the work and know that what I end up saying is something that people will judge one way or another for whatever reason. That’s just what people do, right? All you can do is be true to yourself.

Inclusion, equality, and inclusivity – huge topics on the sociopolitical board in recent times, and the reality is the sense of it all is likely heightened because of the recent election of the current American President. I’m not here to talk about him or gripe or anything politically active like that; I’m just not that person. I’m just noting an observation. I’ll start by saying I don’t believe everyone has to be included in works of art. They just don’t. There is no rule out there that mandates we have to be “fair.” That word, ‘fair’, is a human fabrication. There’s no rule book to life that says we have to do anything – one way or another.

Sorry.

At the same time, I’m not saying that it doesn’t feel good to be included; but that’s not the issue. The issue around the nation is that I feel there’s this movement that people HAVE TO include certain other people. It says that everyone should be included. We should all include everybody else because they’re not you. Include them because they’re: black, yellow, green, purple, male, female, short, tall, fat, skinny, uneducated, poor, uneducated, unhealthy, have different viewpoints, come from different cultures, dog/cat owners, multilingual, Lady Gaga lovers, horse-haters, puppy-kickers, and so on ad nauseam. Include them all. All doors are open; everyone’s welcome.

Guess what, I don’t leave my door open at all times of the day for anyone to walk in whenever they want. <shakes head vigorously> It’s my house, not public park. Doesn’t work that way.

Okay, so there seems to me to exist an implicit understanding that we (artists) haven’t been including “the other” on purpose for ages. I would challenge this. I don’t have the proof on me, but I’d be willing to wager that “the other” has guest-starred in art since art’s debut way back to who-knows-when.  This isn’t something we have to look up now, but I guess is that the data’s there when you’re ready. I get the feeling that the lack of inclusion isn’t the issue here, but wanting the masses to “like you.” And that makes sense. Humans enjoy the feeling of being included, of people liking us. Yes. I completely agree with and understand that. But hey, check out that elephant there in the middle of the room – people aren’t always going to like you. It will never happen 100% of the time. Never. I’ll take that bet.

The aforementioned goes especially for artists. You’re an artist, guess what? You’re playing the lute to an audience of skeptics and “beauty analysts.” Yes, general analysts of a subjective concept. You’re just not going to with with everyone.

BUT! … You will always with with SOMEONE! Even if that someone is only you, there is always someone out there who loves your stuff! That fan could fall anywhere in the color schema of humanity and they love it.

Look. There’s no rule out there that says in life we have to play fair. In fact, once we (society, political institutions, Big Brother) start making it a rule that we have to play fair, then we lose our ability to love what we choose. Once we start telling citizens how they have to play fair, (depending on the topic – or always?) we’re placing more restrictions on the citizens within that country.

At the same time, I’m not saying it’s okay to be a dick, either. If you don’t want someone to join your Easter Egg hunt, that’s fine. It’s your party, but there are understandable reasons and not-all-that-understandable reasons for this. In the end though, it’s still your party. You don’t want to include people, you don’t have to. Period. We were taught the rule on sharing (ideally – if we had parents who made an active effort to bring that to our attention and tattoo it on our hearts. As adults, I think it’s ridiculous that we have to be told this.

None of this is the issue. The issue, as I see it, isn’t inclusion; it’s kindness/compassion. If I wanted to, I could totally play the politically correct game and smile and open my door to everyone. “Look,” I’d say, “I’m being the friendly inclusive patriot of the good ol’ U.S. of A! Come on in, y’all! Yee haw!.” Shit, you could mandate me to “include” someone all you want, but let’s remember two things:

Thing 1: The kid who gets his mom to make the other kids include him loses respect when mommy walks away.

Thing 2:  My inclusion of you does not mean we are suddenly best friends.

I could be a total asshole and still include you (to make mom happy, to make people see me in a better light; to boost my sales, etc). But none of my including you says I have any more of an intrinsic desire to form a closer bond with you.

As a writer, I don’t feel obligated to put a check mark in the inclusivity box while creating something. Here’s the deal, I (artists) are going to be criticized. Why? Because whether I identify a certain way or not, it’s not necessarily how I see myself here, but how other people see me (using their own backgrounds, potential prejudices, and stereotypes) which lends itself to how those around me label me.

In my life, I have worked with a Skittles packet of humanity; skin color, gender, religion, etc., were not determining factors. The apparel did not proclaim the man, as it were. What did make a difference was their respective characters. Were they good people? Did they give of themselves instead of asking to receive? The more the kid in the corner whines about not being able to join the fun, the less the kids at the game table want to let him in. Patience and quiet perseverance, on the other hand, kindness, honesty/trueness to oneself are the sweeter sounds to which our kind has a greater proclivity to listen. Whining is regression.  Art is, as a potential definition, the expression of spiritual progression.

The plumage of our art loses its luminescence when it yields to the mandates of a manmade system. It becomes listless, dull, sick. It’s some dead fowl whose once pretty wings now quickly fade as they flip and flop on the side of some construction-laden highway of mediocrity. A dead phoenix attracts the same attention as a dead vagrant. Dead is dead. Yesterday’s beauty can’t bribe enough to step on today’s stage.

Make your art the way your art cries to be made. You don’t have to be white to write white, just as you don’t have to be transgendered and Laotian to write transgendered and Laotian. Art is art and it comes through you as it is. It will be ridiculed, laughed at, derided, scoffed at, discarded, and potentially ire-fueling. In the same moment it can be uplifting, life-changing, motivating, and inducing laughter, beauty, and song.

Critics are like roaches, and in saying that I don’t imply they can live for three days without their heads; though that may be questionable. The point is if you sit around and listen all the time to what the social club-toting Neanderthal threatens you to do.

No, you don’t have to include; you don’t have to do anything.

Be kind; be true to yourself; keep your pearlescent wings flapping over those highways. You be you; let them be them. It’s that easy. There are no rules up here.

-lp

 

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WWW. LPSTRIBLING.COM – Switching to the Dark Side…and a bit on writing


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I’ve been writing on my own blog since somewhere around 2008, though WordPress has been the carrier of that writing since somewhere around 2010, I guess. In that time I’ve been able to get a couple of poems and a short story out there, but more importantly I’ve been fortunate enough to have all of you out there reading at least something that I’ve written. This is extraordinarily meaningful to me.

Writing is a very scary activity; many of us either don’t understand this, or we forget. I’m speaking of course from the standpoint of someone who stands by choice in front of many people, metaphorically, of course. I guess what I mean is it’s always easier to be part of the crowd than apart from it. It’s easier to be a student in the classroom than the teacher. It’s easier to point the finger than to have the fingers pointed at you… it’s easy to be a critic.

When one writes, especially on a public platform, one is choosing to enter into a world of judgment – a very lonely world of judgment. Whether good or bad, the judgment is real. One is choosing to take on work for which there is no real support. There are no cheerleaders here. There are no badges, no leveling up, no trophies. There’s no tax break, no insurance benefits, no discounts, no free t-shirts, no extra credit. There are no deadlines except those you set for yourself, and there usually aren’t any raises. In fact, when you look around, you can spot all the reasons in the world NOT to write, and you have to make the daily drive through all of the countless reasons your mind comes up with to distract you from the task.

dog-humping-legYou may even have a dog, but odds are it’s already gotten used to what you do there, and none of that includes petting it, giving treats, taking it for walks or agreeing to let it hump your lower leg into oblivion.

When you tell people that you write, most tend to quietly snort, scoff, or give that look of dismissal, or if you’re brazen enough to call yourself a writer in conversation, they may even want to test it out.

“Really?” they ask. “What do you write?”

“Science fiction and fantasy,” you may say.

“Ahh,” they say, or “Mm hmm.”

Writing, in all honesty, is most probably the loneliest task I’ve chosen. One which only a fellow writer can understand.

…well, wait. Let me back up. ‘Lonely’ carries too negative a meaning. It’s too woe-is-me. Fuck that. Autonomous is better.

DO OVER!

Writing is the most autonomous task I’ve ever taken on. And let’s put it into perspective – no, most of the time people aren’t cheering you on, but it’s not their fault. People are used to cheering on athletes, football players, or track stars, or golfers (which I cannot believe. C’mon, you’re cheering for people wear Polo shirts and walk casually across finely mowed lawns). Most people have no concept of how grueling the writerly life is, how much of a grind, how much of a push it really is.

And the dog? Well, can you blame him? It’s a dog. If you’re not petting it, giving it food, or providing a means of furry foreplay, what good are you?

Writers, if they know anything at all, are aware of all the judgmental potential that awaits them. We’re going to write stuff, and some of you may agree, some of you may not. Most of you won’t care. Some of you will enjoy my words, some of you will not. Most of you won’t care. The average reader out there will say, “They’re just words. What can you possibly say that can piss people off?”

Others know better. The sounds of our words provide the audible impressions of ourselves to others. Wars are started over words. People lose jobs over words. People are killed, arson is committed, shots are fired, and nations are bombed over words. By that same token wounds are mended, hearts are healed, and rejuvenation is possible…because of words.

But if you’re still with me, willing to wade through the palimpsest and the drivel I sneeze out there into the digital ether, then please know that I am grateful for it; I am glad. And if you’ve read this far, you’ve honored me and I thank you.

I’ve moved digital spaces; I’ve gained a new parking space, so to speak – one which seems to suit me better. I’m still customizing, of course, so we’ll have to be patient. As Billy Shakespeare said, “How poor are they that have not patience? What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” (Othello: Act II. Scene III).

Here – the address of my new space: www.lpstribling.com

Come one, come all. Subscribe. Read. Post. Ask questions. Bring the dog.

Again, for all your support and your continued friendship, my heartfelt thanks.

-LP

To the artists…


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This one goes out to the artists, the people who spend their time creating – the painters, the musicians, the designers, the writers, the architects, the drawers, the sculptors, and everything between those lines. This is for those who dream actively, knowing that thought without action is still as unproductive as sitting in front of the television letting Someone Else tell you what to think. This is for those who go out into the world every day knowing that no matter what they make, what they create, or how inspirational and aesthetically pleasing their work is, it likely will not be seen or appreciated by another living being, ever…and they do it anyway.
This is for those who, regardless of age, come home after work, tired, hungry, and unwilling, and still decide to go within and be alone with the voice of their own creation. This is for those who walk past the notion of “do it tomorrow”, because tomorrow is a dream, and yesterday’s gone. The artist knows that now is all we have, and all we ever have.

To the critics, the non-doers – we love that you’ve chosen to spend your time pointing fingers at us instead of using your limitless human potential to build. We love that instead of walking through the swamp, you’ve decided to join the anthill of sideline judges, adding to the swarm of buzzards, and the vultures circling above, waiting for us to trip, fall, fail, and die. You sit there, grumbling, waiting for that one chance to say, “See? I told you, you shouldn’t have wasted your time on that “art” nonsense.”
And we do fall. And we love getting back up for you. We love that you’ve decided to spend your lives blaming the rest of us, and thinking, no, believing, we can hear your voices. But they’re too weak, so easily lost in the hiss of a crowd that we’ve long grown used to. We love that you think your voices matter to us. We love the way you inspire us to succeed. Please keep talking; you’re making what we do look so much better.

This is for those who realize that “our days are the precious currency of our lives,” and take action in that knowing.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and dares to live the life that he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
~Thoreau

    This is for those who race toward the finish line of their own ideals. Those who, against all odds, all obstacles, all naysayers, “rules”, guilt trips, distractions, and emotional games choose still to take to their calling, and work, every day, even if to a small degree, as this is still progression.
This is for those who’ve met with Fear, and have decided not to turn, not to run, but to hold his hand and keep walking into his cave. To those who, in some way, walk with him every day, and grow stronger, absorbing a strange familiarity in his awkward chill of unknowns.

To those who create, those who have battled with resisting voices, both inner and outer, and have come to hear the softest (but the truest) voice of them all, floating amid that wild tempest of censorious tongues. This is to those who’ve latched on to this voice, the voice of their own spirit, and allowed themselves to be pulled outside the world of logic and “sense”. To those who’ve allowed the Spirit within them to rush out into a world teeming with those too afraid to lead and too quick to follow, those, welcoming whatever reactions make come, still aver with sonorous resolution, “I choose to live my life by my own devising.” …

To all of you, and to your ideals, I honor you, and celebrate the daily pursuit of your spirit.