Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Joy of a Sentence - That Makes Sense (10.4.08)

Thank you fellow writers:  I may not always agree with you, but I love your passion and your ability to see to the heart of issues, often better than paid pundits.  Thank you for writing eloquent and cogent letters to the editor.  Thank you bloggers who toil at your posts.  Thank you fellow commenters who rage and joke and find solidarity in joys and sorrows.  For:
    This post is a paean to language and to the people who make language work - as a means of fostering a civil society, understanding its problems, and proposing solutions.
I love a sentence that makes sense.  I love a paragraph that gets to the heart of the matter.  I love the give and take of language as people work together, like kicking a ball down a soccer field, whether for fun or for a noble goal, such as we have embarked on this election season.  I love getting up in the morning and reading the editorials and the op-eds and letters to the editor.  And feeling a sense of solidarity.  It used to be just the solidarity of knowing that others were reading and thinking and paying attention to national and world events.  But blogs now permit us to interact and thus we writers have banded together and become our own pundits, our wishers of Happy Birthday and sharers of songs and poems and videos.  But mostly, I love that sentences make sense.  That comments follow one upon another.  That language enables the building of communities both large and small, whether virtual or real.

And why do I love that and praise it this morning?  Whence comes this joy of a sentence?  Suddenly?  Seemingly out of nowhere?

Years ago I wrote a piece called "The War on Logic."  And the gist of that post was that republicans, in their drive to hide their "governance" - a bunch of lies thrown as pablum to the masses while exercising near dictatorial powers - had gone to war on logic.  They couldn't really gain office by saying out loud what was really going on or what they actually intended to do if elected.  Nor could they govern truthfully.  No, it all had to done by subterfuge, by confusion, by sentences and words strung together that did not make sense, that made "crazy" instead.

Time has passed.  Those who went to war against logic have apparently undone themselves.  Somehow the weapon has worked against them - like a Trojan Horse they brought inside to live with (and die by).  And the republican party seems to be in a process of implosion.  Their very effort to dominate politics and business and war and science and religion seems to have backfired.  And they're awash in a painful process of seeing their houses of cards, built with packs of lies, crashing and dissolving right before their eyes - if they would only take off the blinders and the denial and throw away the sentences and phrases and slogans that make no sense.

When I was in first grade, under the firm hand of Miss Parker, she tried to teach me to read using the "Look - Say" method.  She didn't teach phonics.  It wasn't her fault.  It was a new method, you see.  They wanted us to learn each word as if it were like a Chinese character.  (We even spent time drawing little boxes around each word.  You can try it at home now.)  Of course they had to teach us to write the letters and make words of them, but they didn't connect that to the reading process.   So here I was, a 6 year old, who had been talking up a storm for many years already.  My parents had spoken to me in sentences that made sense.  And I spoke that way too.  But the reading book said:  "Look.  Look.  See.  See."  And that did not make sense to me!

Luckily we moved the summer after that.  And within weeks of being presented with the phonics method, VOILA!  I could read!  And the books I read had sentences that made sense.

I think we are in a process of "recovery" here.  We're being exposed to the B-Guys (Barack and Biden) who speak in full and clear sentences.  Beautiful, wonderful, inspiring sentences!   They make sense to the folks who work at Target.  And the folks at the university.  Union workers are making sense out of every word.  Teachers may feel newly inspired.  And a generation of college students will grow up with sensible sentences.  And politicians who speak to them in language that expresses truths, however painful, which call for things like sacrifice and patriotic paying of taxes and working selflessly for a nation which takes care of its citizens and works together with other nations as fellow citizens in a fragile world community.  I can hardly believe it!  It's like being set free from a concentration camp of nonsense!  And we're hearing the truth now.  The sun is shining on the dark, dark days we must now face, and deal with - in order to go forward.   No, Sarah, history matters.  And language matters.  And sense matters.  Thank God for sentences that make sense!

I read some lovely letters to the editor this morning.  And some lovely op-eds.  And editorials.  And I urge you to go and have the fun of reading them yourself.  I read mine in the New York Times.  But I bet you can find sensible sentences of equal beauty in other newspapers.  And on blogs.  And at Target.  At the university.  On your block.

I love a sentence that makes sense
.  And I'm reaching out a hand of gratitude to all those who have toiled for so many years against the deluge of nonsense purveyed by our very government and hypocritical republican politicians trying to sway us with propaganda and clever phrases full of lies.  We're at war here (over logic).  There's still a long battle ahead of us.  We have to work our way through all the nonsense and the evil purveyed by lying words.  Lies that have torn at the Constitution and the Rule of Law.  Lies that have ripped civil society apart.  Lies that allowed greedy bankers and arbitragers and god knows who else to build other packs of lies into houses of cards - leaving people without homes and without retirement funds or jobs to fund them.  Lies that have sent money and goods and jobs off-shore.  Lies that have created so much havoc we have years of muck-raking ahead of us

But boy is it good to feel the sunshine!  Boy is it good to hear a sentence - that makes sense.

I shook Barak Obama's hand in February.  I looked at him with tears in my eyes.  And all I could say was, "Thank You."  I think he understood my gratitude.  He saw my eyes swimming with tears.  He saw my desperation.  My long years of waiting.  For a leader who would speak the truth.  Who would call us together again.  Who would inspire us to be less selfish.   To live by the Constitution.  To pay our taxes as a patriotic duty.  To stop at the stoplights. And obey the other rules of the road and of the land.  To care about equality and justice.  And to treat all Americans equally.  And all nations as neighbors.  And their citizens as no less worthy than we.  And he looked me in the eye.  We had a moment of understanding there.  He and I.  I didn't need to bother him with words.  He had already told me all I needed to hear.  He spoke in sentences that made sense. 


Comments (71)

The joy of a post that posted without problems!

Too right! Although it hasn't been too bad he last few days.

I enjoy your comments, komatsu. Yes, things are getting better. All the way around.

Thank you, and don't worry about the misspelling. Komatsu is the correct japanese name, Kamatsu is a character from one of my favorite books when I was a kid.
I would choose something else (especially seeing as I speak Japanese and know many Japanese people, and Kamatsu is certainly not a common name, and not what I assumed in Japan) but I have had this internet alias for many, many, many years now.

CORRECTION: This post is a paean, not pion.
A kind friend emailed me re my error, instead of posting here.
Hopefully I'll somehow be able to edit this post during the beta testing this weekend - if it really happens as planned.
avatar I have always posited that tortured and tormented language was a certain sign of a mind at odds with itself. This week we have experienced such jewels of language as McCain's support of the bailout bill that McCain doesn't support, fingerpointing while excoriating the finger that points (you need only point it at a mirror, Mr. McCain), and Palin being true to herself and her inability to answer simple questions with anything but gibberish and lies.
Truth, you know, flows effortlessly off the tongue. It represents nothing more than it is. Truth is beautiful. It does not need sentences that seem to be driven along rambling roads of verbal ruin: signifiers of dissembling. When Palin is being true to herself, we can see her for what she is: a stammering, squawking, lie-spewing parrot; while she is beautiful, there is no beauty in her words.

Exquisite, Chris. Just exquisite. Words of wisdom.

TheraP: Beautiful post. Noam Chomsky would be pleased, I suspect. Is the self-evident truth not our foundation? And if so, then is not the truth served well by sensible sentences? Of course, and you do a wonderful job not only of pointing that out, but of illustrating the point as well.

I think Wittgenstein would also be pleased. (and would likely have been upset by the republican "language games" of lies).
Thanks for your kind words.

As a devoted postmodernist, I object to you using this notion of absolutist truth!
The truth is established through the clear language, not the clear language established through the truth.
The truth is only what is defined as true, and in all realities, constructed (mathematics) and non-constructed (our existence) truth can be defined as whatever we feel is appropriate.
A word I think would be better than truth is "fundamental decency" or "morality" - which suggests something good for humanity as a whole.

This is what I love about blogs - when they work right. We work together, establishing understanding and thus a foundation. Through the medium of words, of language.
You're young enough to define yourself as an "ism." But we of an older generation are nevertheless toiling together with you - who will carry on the torch. As we pass it back and forth, may we renew ourselves and celebrate this "fundamental decency or morality - which suggests something good for humanity as a whole," which you reference above.
Your comments are helpful and most appreciated.

Ah, well, the postmodernist thing was a snark.
From my own writings on the subject:
On Postmodernism My assertion that we have no certainty about the nature of absolute truth is not the same as the postmodernist's assertion that absolute truth does not exist.

Postmodernists seek to make the assertion that truth is relative or nonexistant, however this is a self-defeating philosophy. If truth is relative or nonexistant, then you have at least one non-relative, absolute truth - that truth itself is relative or nonexistant.
Instead I make the assertion that Postmodernists were attempting to make:
That we possess as a race zero certainty about any distinction whatsoever, and in order to function at all, we must make numerous assumptions of truth without ever testing or verifying them by deduction. The issue obstructing postmodernists is a lack of intellectual understanding of the philosophical problems they attempt to face, leading to unneeded
obfuscation in some parts and oversimplification to the point of stupidity in others.

lol... I knew what you meant. I think most of us around here usually refer to the truth in the context of a lower case t, rather than, well you know...

Right. 分かりました.

Oooh. I love those characters! And your avatar is back!
Please do a signature on your profile. So we always get to see Japanese characters!

I believe also that the mass media, more specifically the TV media, has devolved (or maybe it always has been this way) to the point where it literally (yes, this is a Joe Biden "literally") spouts words and phrases without attention to meaning.
They take obvious lies at face value and attempt instead to manufacture news where it doesn't exist. I'm not sure how much of this is due to direct neoconservative influence and how much is motivated by greed and cost-cutting, but it's got to stop if we want to get public discourse turning back to legitimate discussion and away from opinionated oneupmanship.

I see I misspelled your name above. I apologize.

Yeah, same thought. The right wing Rovers have gotten away w/the large-scale deception, because communication between the public and the Powers-That-Be has gone one way - from them to us. Through their speeches and press conferences, and mainstream media whose strings are pulled by the PTB.
The Internet has shot that mechanism all to hell. We talk to one another now. We challenge conventional wisdom. We check their facts. And we call them on their bull. And the Deceivers' heads are spinning.
But, don't get too comfortable in what may be a momentary victory. They're regrouping and finding new ways to hoodwink the masses and work their way back into power. I believe that Obama will make it to the White House and be sworn in January 2009. I also think that the neocons (including some Dems) will be persistently working to undermine him and they will be back in full force in 2012 to try to get him out. The amazing thing to me is that McCain and his thugs doesn't seem to be aware of how tired and ineffective the old Rovian tricks are this time around. I imagine that they will refine those methods over the next four years.

Oh, god, I dread the coming logic wars. Thanks for the heads up, dear Carol. Always enjoy your comments... and your avatar.
avatar Good morning Thera.
A wonderful blog.
I have always been annoyed by the slogan: Why can't Johnny read. It is one of the most stupid questions that keeps getting past around as some some sort of mysterious bafflement, about why children are not learning to read.
To me, there is a very simple reason why children can not read. How do children learn to ride their bicycles? The do so by riding them. The very same simple principle applies to reading. You learn how to read books by reading books. Only Johnny can learn to read, by reading and reading and reading. That is how Maya Angelou did it. That is how Frank McCourt did it, and that is how I did it, in a home without electricity, water, and just a simple fireplace, and later on a stove. We did not have even a radio, until I was twelve, but my father and mother, poor as we were, bought a daily paper, and I read it, out of boredom, and then read every book in the nearest small library, out of boredom.
Look at all the kids who have read the Harry Potter books. Kids love reading once they get the habit. It is the wonderful theatre of the imagination. Of course, Ms. Rowling had to go and ruin it for the next generations of children, by letting them turn her books into movies, so now the next crop of kids will watch the damn DVD versions, instead of reading the books.
How do you get to Carnagie Hall? Practice Practice.
The same rules apply to reading. How does Johnny learn to read? Reading Reading Reading.
avatar Edit: they do so.
My worn out hand-me-down fingers are failing me this morning.

Personally I think that my entire base skill set and natural intelligence is derived from the fact that my parents got me to read from an early age and that I have always enjoyed reading and in some of the hardest times of my life I have gotten through them by reading alot about interesting things.
Although whenever I get presents for my nephews and nieces they know what to expect. Kids don't read enough these days.

Your comments reminded me of two Nobel lectures by writers. It's worth checking out the words of Orhan Pamuk and Doris Lessing. Both writers refer to reading and writing and personal histories and how important it is for a writer to have books and time alone for reflection and for keeping alive, as Lessing puts it, a kind of "inner space" from which one creates. You can check this web page to access the videos or the written texts:[]=126&t=s&l=0&ll=-2&f=0&ff=0&ua=671cfe84458a7d5e729c1fd6d2869c13
I highly recommend both lectures. And both writers.

Excellent post. Thank you. I was thinking at the end of this post, that Obama is really the only politician I have a real desire to meet. Then I thought, well, American politician. There's Vaclav Havel. And it hit me, that Obama is our Havel. A dream come true.
"Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good."
--Vaclav Havel

I wish Obama would come here to Australia. Through my work in opera, I've come to have a passing acquaintance with one of our better former Prime Ministers (Paul Keating) but I have never even come close to any American political figure.

What a beautiful quote! Thanks.

what a lovely blog. Thank you.

I always appreciate your comments.

Please never change your avatar! I love it. It is a mandala, I think, even though square. Wholeness. Order. Very soothing. And lovely.

But the reading book said: "Look. Look. See. See." And that did not make sense to me!
Aha! So, that was it; I was reading a reading book to a five year old. But, it made absolute no sense! Teaching how to take in words stripped of meaning. You betcha!
I've been told that Welsh has a limited lexicon; that words are overloaded with various meanings, depending upon context. The word f*ck is one of those words. It is an emotional placeholder.
Politics as prosodic policy.

Japanese is also very much like that. For example, one word, はし (hashi), which can mean "Edge", "Bridge", "chopsticks".
Of course I have read a story about hashimoto-san sitting on the edge of a bridge made out of chopsticks.
While the meaning can sometimes be gleaned contextually, in the example above of course, it is done either by reading the appropriate kanji (chinese character) or, in speech, it is done through very slight inflectional changes.
These polymorphic words are often used to great effect in japanese poetry and literature.
Another one is " はんな" hanna which can mean flower, nose, among other things.

You nailed it!

This blog wouldn't be complete without this URL:

Parochial school kid here (after 1st grade, when we moved). We diagrammed sentences like crazy. I'll check the link more carefully later on.

avatar TheraP I'm late to comment but wanted to thank you for the lovely post. I'm 55 and remember the Dick and Jane readers from first grade. Could this be the "Look. Look. See. See." method to which you refer? What an awful way to teach language. I always spoke to my daughter in complete sentences and started reading to her very early. It quickly became our favorite activity together. By the time she was two she recognized words and would point them out, even ridiculous words like pterodactyl and archaeopteryx from a book about dinosaurs. At age twelve she had entered and won a contest at school where the books written by the winners were hardbound and placed in our local library.
You can give no greater gift to a child than the love of reading. Of course, it goes without saying, you must supply the books as well!
Have you read Al Gore's book ASSAULT ON REASON? In it he talks about how reading engages the brain in a much more profound way than watching TV, an activity that actually disconnects the reasoning center in your brain. Now think of all those lost souls watching Fox News. No wonder this country is in the state it is.

Yes. Dick and Jane.
I'd forgotten their names. And Spot, the dog.
Look. Look. See. See.
You were supposed to know that meant... look at the dog. Well, why didn't they say so????
avatar Exactly!
I also wanted to comment on Biden's debate performance. Although I was pleased, for the most part, I think he missed an opportunity when Palin brought up his quote about "patriotic taxpaying", especially considering his opponents motto "Country First" or "Service" or whatever the hell it is this week. He should have pointed out the fact that not only is the USA, for the first time fighting a war completely on credit, it is doing so in the midst of unprecedented tax cuts.
McCain supported those cuts, after he was against them of course, and wants to extend them while maintaining a significant presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Not only that, he wants to continue Bush's policy of saber rattling against Russia, Iran, Venezuela etc. Where on earth do they think we are going to borrow the money to back that up? I think we've just about maxed out our foreign credit as their banks are also failing thanks to us.

My eye snagged on an elementary particle serving as a paean (pion = pi meson).
Thanks for your post. Nice antidote to Palin.

Thank you, Tom. I did put a correction up above. Somehow I was doubtful at the time I wrote it. But naturally spell-check was ok with it... since it means something in physics, I now have learned. Who knew?

Now, Palin -- there's a pain.
Fie on both her houses, and all of John McShame's.

Beautiful post and wonderful comments.

avatar Beautiful post TheraP. Your avatar and writing always make me think of Gabriele Rico and Betty Edwards.
I was raised in a family that demanded good English, reasoning and knowing definitions. As my education progressed, I became convinced that child rearing in America was becoming obsessed with prolonging childhood instead of promoting growth and independence.
My first absolute was never to talk 'baby language' to an infant or a child. How do they learn the real thing if all they hear is a substandard version for years? Along with this was: talk to the kid, often. I have been very pleased with the recent ads promoting this kind of dialogue with todlers and preschoolers.
Now an odd contrast. I lived in AK from 80 to 94 and both my children were born there. When my son was about two, I came across a program for teaching young children to read developed by a couple in Alaska. It was well developed based on research at the time. The ultimate goal was enhancing the development of the communication links between the right and left brain that are developing between the ages of 2 and 4, when lateralization of the hemispheres occurs.
My ADD son and dyslexic daughter could not master reading at that age. They did develop the fascination with the idea that those symbols meant something. I was also heavily into reading aloud to them which also spurred their desire to learn the skill.
Another aspect of brain development that I learned at the time:
a child between the ages of 3 and 5 will ask between 300 and 400 questions per day. This helps two areas of growth. Learning to ask questions and that it is ok to ask questions. Learning the difference between fantasy and reality. Children at this age are ususally still thinking magically. They did something that caused the cars to crash in front of them. By the time they are seven, they begin to understand that many parables are lessons, not the exact truth.
I am convinced that our foolish childrearing tactics are as much responsible for the assault on reason succeeding, as the amount of time these kids have spent being entertained by junk TV. Instead of learning how to fill the time of their lives with more rewarding and productive pursuits such as reading, pondering and physical activity.
My 'kids' are now 27 and 24. Throughout their childhoods and into young adulthood they have been consistently praised for being articulate beyond their ages, insightful and generally fascinating to talk to. By adults much older than them. They had a hard time relating to their peers but both recognized the advantage and accepted that fewer childhood friends was OK.
BTW, TheraP, how did you manage to forget Dick and Jane? I wish I could wipe them out of my memory space!

Gee... now I'll likely recall them forever. Truly it was another puzzle of my childhood. How could anyone stand those stories? I must repressed it!

And your idea that they are prolonging childhood. Yes. Lots to think about there.
avatar Thank you for your comments. For so long I have felt only frustration as others looked at me critically when I complained about the death of English over the years. It's good to know there are others who feel as I do.
I thought I should point out that in her debate, Palin missed an opportunity to quote one of her secret idols as she struggled to convey her fundamental philosophy of life--the philosophy that informs all she thinks and does: "Foo me once,.....shame on you. Foo me,....can't foomegain."
Also, if McCain is kind to her and those that allow her in the public also, she may have a communication moment to say to those hockey moms and joe-six-pack people also those philosophies to the American people. You betcha!

Listening to Sarah Palin speak, it occurred to me that her ideas are no better. For her to utter a coherent sentence would practically be a misrepresentation.

As I ponder these things, it fascinates me how one can get to know people in so many ways. Language is one. And over the web, that's the one we've got. And each person has a "signature" way of expressing him or herself. So our basic personalities seem to emerge through the way we say things, the way we perceive things and integrate ideas, our behavior. This is actually one of the ways we psychologists do an evaluation. We look across many domains of functioning - looking for confirmation across a variety of domains. If we do a good job of it, we can paint a psychological portrait of someone, based on a variety of ways where they have demonstrated certain traits or problems.
Just musing here. Seeing how knowledge applies across domains and boundaries.
I guess I'm a synthesizer in some ways. Turning ideas this way and that, trying to get a novel take. Or to boil things down to a common denominator.
Lovely thread here.

Lovely thread here.
It is a lovely thread and because of that, and my respect of you, I won't interject a comment that I've been itching to do so (more and more) because I fear it would derail things.
Suffice it to say, that as a professional writer (among other things), *all* politicians have butchered language to suit their own purposes. This is not a left vs. right issue.
George Orwell and George Bernard Shaw wrote of this more eloquently than most. But this little tidbit from Lewis Carroll hopefully will refresh childhood memories:
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.' `The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'
The tool of the politician is language. You can bet that all those politicians that are successful are absolute masters of those tools.

Dear clearthinker, always feel free to make whatever comments you like. Though it sounded like you said you wouldn't and then you sort of went and did. Even if it's something critical of me, that's ok. I know I'm not perfect. Every day gives me proof of that.

Post wasn't critical of you, TheraP. I just wanted to interject a gentle reminder that the left has not use language in its pure form either. I could say much more, but that would only give people talking points to which to respond. ;-) Maybe at some point in the future, I'll blog something more substantial on the topic.
I just figured I didn't want to be responsible for taking the "joy" out of this thread. Not everything need end up in a debate. ;-)
Two smileys in one comment? Let me leave it at that!

Let me further clarify: My imagined comment to this post wouldn't have been critical of you.
Phew! This language business is tough!

Yeah, I deal with it all the time in my work. No question, it's a biggie. And I think some of the philosophy of that got touched on upthread. Many moons ago I read some of Chomsky. And I've read quite a bit of Wittgenstein. Plus studied 2 languages, learned another at my mother in law's knee, so to speak, and another while residing there for about 6 months in high school. Plus Latin and a smattering of a couple others. And a lot of philosophy, both eastern and western. That definitely stretches one's mind!
I'll leave it at that. I always appreciate your comments.
avatar This is simply a pile of crap. Obama is a rather ordinary politician who does all the ordinary things that politicians do. Its statements like this that make those of us who are realists and have looked at his record talk about some Obama supporters drinking kool-ade.
Obama does not tell the truth. He lies like every other politician. I'll grant you that he lies less than McCain but he still lies. One example. He claimed to be against banning hand guns. Maybe true. He claimed he had always been against banning hand guns. A lie. A questionaire was produced that specifically asked if he was in favor of banning hand guns in the state of Ill. It was answered yes. He claimed he had never seen the questionaire, an aide had filled it out and answered that question wrong. A lie. A copy of the questionaire was produced that had notes written on it in his handwriting.
To pay our taxes as a patriotic duty. That line of bullshit came from Biden. Obama wants 5% of americans to pay more taxes so 95% can get 1,000 dollars back. That's a rather uneven view of patriotism. On average each of those 5% of americans would have to pay 19 thousand dollars so 19 americans could get a 1 thousand dollar gift. Would inspire us to be less selfish? Here's a thousand dollars, I took it from the rich for you, go be less selfish? You may think this is a good idea but please don't tell me he's asking American's to be patriotic, less selfish, and to sacrifice. He's just asking that of the top 5%. The other 95% get to be patriotic with an extra thousand dollars in their pocket, that's one hell of a sacrifice to ask them to make.
Obama is not bringing us together. He is not healing any divisions. Our country is as divided as it ever has been and the democratic party more divided than it has been in over 30 years. A large number of long term democrats are very disappointed that Obama won the primary and are only planning on voting for him as the lessor of 2 evils. Much more a vote against McCain than a vote for Obama. A significant minority of long term highly committed democrats are planning on voting for McCain.
You may have the illusion that "we" are coming together in unity from the posts you find here. But that's because nearly every Clinton supporter was driven from this board by the badgering and bullying from Obama supporters. Those clinton supporters still exist. They didn't disappear just because they were driven off TPMcafe. Some of them support Obama, some will vote for him holding their nose thinking about the Supreme Court, some will vote for another candidate. If I and a few other stubborn intransigents were driven off as well the illusion of unity here would be absolute. But it wouldn't mean the Obama has called us together or that the democratic party or america was any more unified.
Obama isn't some muslim manchurian candidate or a leftist radical bomb throwing terrorist protege of Ayers. He's intelligent so he'll probably do ok. But really, spare me the bs about how he tells the truth and how he'll bring us together and inspire us. He may inspire you but its pretty clear he hasn't inspired most of the American people. He's probably going to win but not because he's called us together or created any sort of unity. He's just an ordinary politician, this year's lessor of 2 evils.

I hear your anger, oceankat. But it doesn't dim my joy. Or my hope. I know Obama is not a saint. But then neither am I. It's a shame you're missing out on the joy. But partly that's a choice you're making. We all approach situations from our internal perspectives. Yours sounds dark. Makes me sad for you.
I'm reminded of a poem by Langsten Hughs. Google it if you like: Mother to Child.
Great poet. Great poem. We all suffer. But we can choose how to respond to it. There's another quote I like - from Solzhenitzen about how life is difficult but it's our approach to life that determines our happiness. He says a man can be happy whenever he chooses because happiness is the "kinship of heart to heart and the way we look at the world."
avatar I'm sorry you decided to make this personal. You expressed your thoughts and feelings about Obama. I responded with my thoughts and feelings about Obama. You then decided to talk about your theories about me.
Nothing about this election has any bearing on the amount or quality of my suffering or my happiness. My life will not change substantially no matter who is elected. Aside for some compassion I might feel for the suffering Bush has caused others these last 8 years has not caused me any personal suffering nor has it caused me any personal unhappiness. Had Gore been elected my life would not be substantially different than it is now. Unless this society collapses into a sever depression and there is lawlessness on the streets because of it I will be unaffected.
I'm not interested in speculating about your personality or the degree of suffering and happiness in your life. I know I haven't got a clue and no short essay by you will give me enough information to comment on who you are. Frankly, you haven't got a clue who I am and I'm amazed that you think you've been able to look lightly or deeply into my soul from the 4 or 5 paragraphs I wrote here.

Not personal? Your first sentence read: This is simply a pile of crap.
Sounded to me like you were referring to my post.
Another paragraph began: You may have the illusion.
A different comment you wrote: And this is the problem with all your posts and why I so rarely attempt to engage you in dialog.
I'm not writing to please you or displease you. I'm writing to please myself.
We might as well agree to disagree and leave it at that.

If you create a separate blog on this topic, I promise I will jump in.

avatar Which topic CT? There were several in my post. I think on some of the topics we might have a lively argument and on others mostly agreement. I'm guessing that on the tax plan we'd generally agree though I could be wrong. I don't have a problem with greater taxes on the upper class but I feel turning that money over to 95% of the rest of the people is a waste of money sorely needed to deal with the energy crisis. Only a small percentage need that relief, most need to tighten their belts.
I don't feel I really have time to blog much since I feel a responsibility to pay much closer more timely attention to the responses to a blog than I do for a comment.
avatar Well now you have a case of where a poster cites an example of where Obama is telling the truth, namely taxing the top five percent, in order to cut taxes for the working class, as an example of why Obama is not to be trusted. The person who made that strange distortion of what constitutes truth, is not to be trusted. Ask that person if the person he backed, Senator Clinton, is for letting those who make the most not having to pay a bit more.
That person just hijacked the blog in order to attack Senator Obama, so I did not want to let the creep go unanswered, lest he think that we were swallowing his absurd nonsense. He writes like he might have been Sarah Palin's debate fluffer.
Warren Buffett is one of those people who makes an enormous amount each year, on unearned income, and Mr. Buffett says that he wants to pay more, because he is ashamed that the person who empties his waste baskets pays a higher percentage of their meager income, than he does on his enormous income.
Mr. Buffett is backing Senator Obama's tax plan

During a bike ride I thought a lot about the Nay-Saying in one comment that you refer to. I personally don't feel the commenter hi-jacked this thread. I just think the person may not quite understand what I meant. And if so, I can't really explain it. You had to be there, so to speak.
But I appreciate your stirring defense here. And desire to jump in and "protect the thread." I'll call on you, liam, if I ever have a flat tire while biking!
Here's my thinking on what I was saying. I'm not just talking lies here. I'm not asserting that one side is lying and the other side never lies. That's not it at all.
I'm talking double-speak. I'm talking something akin to a sociopathic effort to sabotage logic, to sabotage civil discourse, and to manipulate the populace through what I call "crazy-making." I'm not going to bother to explain what I mean to those who fail to see it. Sorry about that, if you feel in the dark here. But I'm celebrating the return of speech that makes sense!
Enough said. If you never experienced what I'm talking about, well God bless you! Truly.
avatar I didn't realize that the purpose of the comment section of a blog was to tell the OP how brilliant they are and how wonderful the blog was. I didn't realize that posting a contrary opinion constituted hijacking. I thought the purpose of commentary was to discuss the pros and cons.
My comments on Obama's tax plan in no way either explictly or implied was used as a example of why Obama is not to be trusted. No one, not even Obama, would claim the 95% of the population is working class. These statements are the strange distortions of what constitutes truth.
And this is the problem with all your posts and why I so rarely attempt to engage you in dialog. Your sole purpose here is to demonize the opposition to your candidate, both the political opposition, McCain, Palin, and previously Clinton, and those commenters who disagree with you.
Strange distortion of what constitutes truth is nothing more than a polite way of saying lie. The fact is you lie constantly and I'm not interested in dialog at that low a level.

Please calm down. Your anger is so obviously physical and that scares me. It scares me for you and for those around you. You don't see it that way, I know. Just another reason to ask that you calm down.

Thank you for the heartening post, TheraP.
I've wondered if the blogosphere might be a lifeline to our nation's flailing communication skills. Whether posts and comments are sincere, disingenuous, short interplays, or thoughtfully researched analysis or opinion, higher level thinking is required to bring them to fruition. Further, at least in the blogosphere, quality writing seems to be appreciated. That's cause for optimism.
John Oliver said something on the "Daily Show" last week that gave me pause. In all honesty, it didn't sink in until several days after I heard it. He and Jon Stewart were talking about whether Bush would be regarded as the worst president in history. Oliver said something to the effect, "He might be the last." Quip that it was, it was bone chilling when I finally understood what he meant. I wonder how many Americans take our country for granted. I don't anymore.
The power of a sentence.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I feel like I'm hosting an open house here. Guests drop in. We have a conversation. More drop by. More conversation.
I agree with your hypothesis. I too have thought how tv left people not reading. But now the internet and texting have turned a new generation on to reading and writing. I'm thrilled!!!
And I agree that it may elevate discourse as well as the level of writing.
It's interesting to me actually what motivates posters. Some people really, really need to figure out how to get their name on the Rec list. Others have a burning desire to say something - and sometimes it may resonate with others and sometimes not - but the sense of satisfaction in having expressed oneself - and maybe touched a person or two (or more) is a joy in itself.
As far as the nation, wow, yes, I've been concerned to the extreme these last few years. Then again... is it age? Does everyone feel that way as they grow older? Or is it the age or the phase of our society? Maybe a combination.
One post I wrote recently was how I think this election is a referendum on the constitution. I still feel that way. I think we're back to square one in some ways. How do we move forward? That's the question of our age, I think.
Peace. I want peace. And justice. The rule of law. And something akin to a Constitution. I actually think a Parliamentary form of government is better than what we've got. But I'll settle for Peace.

I see this phase in our country's growth as a kind of painful metamorphosis. When we finally emerge, our nation will be much the better. That may be a long way off, but at least it's in view.
avatar "As far as the nation, wow, yes, I've been concerned to the extreme these last few years. Then again... is it age? Does everyone feel that way as they grow older?"
I have also felt this way since W had to invade Iraq. It has grown very extreme since. The recurring impression for me is that Obama's success is the consensus of many Americans who are realizing how badly the whole GOP path has turned out.
There is also a lot of relief that the time has finally come. I basically started anticipating that America and the world would have to come to this time of stark reality during my lifetime when I was a teenager in the late '60s. That our lifestyles, overconsumption, pollution, religious wars, etc would ultimately bring us to deciding whether we are really going to change our ways, or suffer unimmaginable tragedies.
It was a movement that was waiting for the right leader. Someone who can make sense when they talk, to the right and left brains of people who are willing to listen.

Ah yes, inflection. I read how Asian syntax language pivots on vowels while Western syntax pivots on consonants. Or is that semantics. (Tactics or Strategy?) A Vietnamese friend once told a story using only 7 meanings of the word Ma.

Oops! That was a reply to Kamatsu's post, at 11:55.
What a delightful thread. Thanks TheraP.

Your avatar is clearly enlightening!

Do you ever get the feeling that some people just have to take a happy conversation and turn it into something ugly...don't get why that has to be.
At any rate, as a fellow avid reader who has raised a daughter who is an avid reader, who now has her own daughter who is trying so hard at the age of 3 to read "by myself", thank you for this post.
But thanks most of all for your description of meeting Sen. Obama in person. Your story sounds like the one I play in my head, as I imagine one day getting to shake the hand of the man who caused me to realize I am "stillidealistic."
Liam has put your post up on the Sat/Sun Aggregate Post, so hopefully the conversation will continue beyond the time when it falls off the Reader Rec list. Please "rec" it if you get the chance.

I too, as you can tell, am "still idealistic." And yes, I agree with your hypothesis. And why some people would be motivated to tear down beauty or joy remains a puzzle. I think it would be specific to the person. I could speculate on some reasons. But why waste my energy on that?
Thanks for your idea of putting that up on the aggregate post. And I will definitely rec that.
Sometimes only later does one really understand a brief meeting. I had a brief meeting with the Dalai Lama once. That was different. As I expected to venerate a holy man and my experience was that he venerated the holy in me. It blew me away! But it took me a long time to really understand what had occurred. It taught me about the "power" of holiness. And the meaning of "presence" and how that can literally - in an instant - "give" something to others who are susceptible to that. So I've told many people that the Dalai Lama taught me more about Jesus than anyone ever has. And he didn't say it with words. He said it with "presence."
Obama has "presence." Not in the way of the Dalai Lama. But he's working on it! My meeting with Obama, I think, says more about me than it says about him. Or it speaks to how Obama can draw the best from a person. I think that's it!

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