The Ups and Downs of Slactivism

“I speak to good, decent people all around the world.  And they all genuinely want to change the world – as long as they don’t have to change themselves. But life doesn’t work that way – first, we change in our hearts, and then, the world follows. True leaders must face their own demons courageously.” – Philip Wollen, philanthropist.

If there’s one thing that’s hard to deny about the age of The Internet and Portable Communication/Entertainment devices, it’s that it’s made us more lazy on the whole, and arguably more apathetic about the world around us. I can imagine that certain people are spitting coffee all over their keyboards right about now in a spray of indignant rage; “how can he possibly suggest such a thing!? Is that some of that rose-tinted (and btw, rather trite and pathetic) 80s and 90s nostalgia putting blinkers over the cataract-milky eyes of this old geezer?” Well before you scroll down to the comments section and unleash a dungpile of your finest trollage upon me for daring to suggest such a thing, please allow me my five minutes on the soap box.

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The all-in-one Idiocracy chair, coming soon to all apathetic households.

Now, why would I suggest that the internet has made us (and by “us” I’m referring to the largely-Western citizens of the global digital landscape, not third world peasants with no access to this virtual landscape of bits and bytes) more apathetic on the whole? I make this bold statement, and it’s important to note the following point, people, in relative terms.

What I mean by that is precisely the fact that most article-skipping trolls will most likely have posted by the time you, the decent and polite reader, have reached this point: that humankind now, more than ever in recorded human history, has collective, instant and largely unrestricted access to more information about the past and present states of every single culture in the world than has ever before been made available to the common person.

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We have the means at our fingertips, and you can take that in both figurative and completely literal terms if you want, to find out almost anything imaginable about the world. Google, wikipedia, youtube; these are, at least for me, the “big three”names in online information-seeking media, and with these three tools you’d be hard-pressed to name a subject upon which you couldn’t find heaps upon heaps of articles, critiques, analyses, exposés, essays and opinions ad infinitum.

Now while much of this content revolves around things of a rather inconsequential nature, there are vast reserves of online knowledge specifically pertaining to important academic fields such as science, politics, economics, medicine, history, biology, astrophysics, as well as a proliferation of equally important areas of the Arts, including fine art itself, literature, music, anthropology, cultural and gender studies, philosophy, psychology, film and other such areas of vital intellectual interest. In short, we have the means to thoroughly educate ourselves and expand our minds in an overwhelmingly vast array of fields of knowledge; the only limiting factor here is the individual’s capacity to absorb, analyse and retain whatever knowledge they decide to ingest.

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Let me repeat this again: Never before, in the (roughly) ten thousand years of humankind’s span of civilised history has such a degree of knowledge been available to all as there has been within the last ten years or so.

Yet, how many of us make a daily, weekly or even monthly effort to access, analyse and digest even the most minute fraction of the monumental universe of knowledge that is freely available to us?

The point I’m trying to make in mentioning the vastness and comprehensiveness of information available to everyone relates to the founding principles of our postmodern, hyperglobal consumerist society: exploitation and unsustainability. Almost every industry around which our lifestyles of convenience and unquestioning consumption revolve is based on the plundering of some non-renewable resource (oil, for example), or cheaply exploitable but morally reprehensible source (massive exploitation of animals, exploitation of millions of third world poverty-stricken humans, including children, the wide-scale annihilation of the natural environment, the trawling of the oceans, etc etc).

Now, in the decades that preceded the 00s and the advent of global internet accessibility, it was relatively easy for those in power, the ones in charge of and profiting handsomely from industries dependent on massive exploitation and destruction, to keep the wool pulled over the eyes of the general citizenry, in whose hands the actual power rests (the power of participating in, or refusing to participate in certain areas of the economy). There was no youtube, no google, and no social networks like facebook upon which ideas could be shared and spread, with the rapidity and fury of a bushfire, across the expanse of the earth, transcending barriers of culture, language, nationality and socio-economic status. Documentaries, articles, books and opinion pieces that exposed the truth about the horrors of factory farming, sweatshops, the destruction of the rain forests, the extinction of millions of species of wildlife, resource wars in the third world, the dying oceans, etc, would have had to be actively sought out by those few individuals who were concerned enough to do so. Such materials would have been relegated to the “alternative thinking” or “New Age philosophy” section of independent bookstores, and in addition to being almost invisible in their physical placement they would have carried the stigma of those labels under which they were listed, which the exploiters have done such an excellent PR job of ridiculing, with public perception thereof being almost universally that of cranks, “dirty hippies”, crazed fringe lunatics, well-meaning but utterly ignorant and misinformed middle-aged-women, con-running charlatans, LSD-burned ex addicts, and all of the other false stereotypes associated with such labels.

Thus it was to be expected that in the pre-internet age, the majority of us, even the most erudite critical thinkers, would merely accept that the way our society functions as being good, right and wholly normal. We could not be blamed for harboring a complete disconnect with reality, because the means to expose that reality for what actually lay veiled beyond the curtain of the mundane, which consists of a series of horrific and monstrous systems of terror, destruction and exploitation, were simply not widely and freely available to us.

However, with the advent of The Web, this has changed completely. We can now see the truth of what forms the foundations of the pyramid upon which we totteringly sway, so sure of ourselves as the rightful Pharaohs of the universe, even as the base crumbles and gives way to the gaping maw of the ocean of desolation that is about to swallow everything. The Truth is but a mouse click away, for those that would discover it. And surely, we all want to know about issues so important that the very survival of our species utterly depends on it?

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Morpheus is real, and his name is The Internet.

With that question in mind, let’s move on to the topic of “slacktivism”.

So, we’ve established that we have all of the information necessary to expose the Truth about the systems of horror and destruction that our lifestyles continue to fuel. We can learn as much as we want about dire and pressing issues that affect every single one of us and hold the very future of the planet and all life upon it in the balance.

But do we care?

We like to think we do. This is where “slacktivism” comes in. The term “slacktivist” came into use sometime in the mid-90s, apparently, and what it refers to is the usually very minor actions that an individual undertakes in support of a some distant cause. This could be something like “liking” a page on facebook, the online sharing of a video that promotes some cause, or perhaps signing one’s name on an internet petition. Less “passive” forms of slacktivism would be making credit card donations to a particular cause online, or in the real world, dropping some coins into a collection box for a charity or social justice cause.

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Now let me say that in terms of what I have just described, slacktivism is not actually a bad thing. I am guilty of all of the abovementioned actions; yes, I too am a slacktivist when it comes to certain issues. I am not trying, in this article, to suggest that slactivism is useless. In fact, slactivism has actually achieved some pretty monumental things, which you can take note of if you peruse the following infographic.

However, the point I want to make about slactivism is that it’s not enough. While it has succeeded in making small positive changes around the world, it is not going to save us from the disaster we are speeding so recklessly and inevitably toward. It’s a temporary alleviation from extremely deep-seated feelings of guilt that, since birth, we have been conditioned to suppress way down to the furthest reaches of the subconscious mind. It’s a way of saying, “hey, look at me! I’m one of the good guys! I care about more than  just myself!” But more than this, it’s yet another means of instant gratification in the age of instant gratification, (and the internet, with its online shopping, free downloads, streaming content, etc has massively amplified, reinforced and enabled a veritable epidemic of insta-grat cravings and addictions) and it’s another ineffectual shortcut in the era of ineffectual shortcuts; a failed promise from a slick internet salesman in exactly the same vein as “30-day sixpack abs, 1 minute a day, gauranteed!!!”.

The scary thing about slacktivism is the other side of the coin. While slacktivist actions are a quick-fix reflexive reaction that make a small difference and temporarily alleviate subconscious feelings of unease about our lifestyles and complicity in systems of mass violence and exploitation, they also reinforce apathetic and lazy behaviour in the individual. They strengthen the part of ourselves that is greedy, that is selfish, that is lazy, the side that does not want to change or make any kind of personal sacrifice for the greater good. And when this side of human nature is indirectly and subtly criticized or attacked, it reacts with its concomitant emotions: violence, anger, cynicism, sarcasm and mockery. What do I mean by “indirectly or subtly criticized or attacked”? This is when the individual is presented with an example of a person who is making considerable efforts to alter their lifestyle drastically, to make great personal sacrifices, to actively make changes in the world that will transform things for the better. This especially happens when such a person makes their efforts publicly known. The lazy or apathetic person sees such an individual, and through subconscious feelings of guilt regarding their own complicity or apathy, they react by attacking, mocking or vilifying that person’s lifestyle choices. After all, it’s easier and more satisfying to be an armchair critic and not have to do anything oneself to contribute to positive change in the world.

This relates to another reason for slacktivism being such a great feelgood prompt; we can “take action” on and make a noise in public about causes which are completely outside our sphere of experience, in which we are fairly certain that we have no instance of complicity at all. It’s a form of the age-old culturally-insular practice of defining the Other (whether this Other takes the form of people of other ethnic groups, tribal groups, religious groups, nationalities, etc etc is irrelevant here) via a negative comparison to our own group’s (perceived) moral superiority. Thus I often see people in my own online social circles (facebook news feed, for example) ranting about the evils of consuming shark-fin soup (usually Westerners who would never eat such a thing anyway, yet who in the same breath will post pics of the steak they had for dinner), the consumption of dog and cat meat in China (ditto), fur farms in Asia (ditto), or perhaps they will post about the traumatic effects of bullying in schools (a popular one doing the rounds now), or the hate spread by the Westboro Baptist Church, and accompanying this post will be something commenting on how enlightened they are because they “think religion is bullshit”. Or, perhaps the biggest one of last year – the Kony campaign.

Now don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that these are things we shouldn’t be concerned about and that we shouldn’t be raising awareness about. Of course we should be spreading awareness about these injustices and contributing to bring an end to them. But the point, once again, is that this is not enough – not enough to create and undertake the kinds of drastic changes we need to exact to save global civilisation from itself.

Slactivism is counter-intuitive to this in a way, because while it does raise brief spates of awareness and activity related to (Other-ed) causes, it simultaneously fails to address those evils that we are completely complicit in in our own lifestyles, and creates a sensation of satisfaction, in the sense of “I’ve done my good deed for the day, I can go back to lazing about and being apathetic without any latent feelings of guilt to bother me”.

But as Philip Wollen says, this is not how the world works. We cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into complacent apathy by temporarily-alleviated feelings of having “made a difference” for the day via slacktivist actions. We need to delve deeper, and critically examine our own lifestyle choices and the way that they are contributing to a looming global environmental and ecological disaster. We need to figure out how we can CHANGE the way we live, the personal sacrifices that WE MUST make in order to genuinely exact change. As Rowdy Roddy Piper says in the cheesy but relevant 80s film They Live, we need to “put on the damn glasses!”. Except these magic glasses will not reveal that an alien race as the threat to our continued existence upon Earth. They will reveal the threat that we ourselves pose.

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“Put on the damn glasses!” “Whooooaa…”
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How the magic glasses enable Roddy to see the world.

So where do we start looking if we genuinely want to wake up and start making a difference? How to we attempt to steer ourselves away from looming disaster? What do we need to change to move towards a more compassionate lifestyle that distances itself from greed, exploitation and apathy? Well, the first place we can look is in our refrigerators and on our dinner plates. Now while one can wax lyrical about the ethics (or lack thereof) of consuming meat and other animal products, (the main reason I myself eschew them is because of the utter horror, cruelty and and amorality of the conditions in which commercial livestock are raised and slaughtered), the bottom line is that most people just don’t care. We’ve all been raised to believe that animals are stupid, that they are incapable of even the most basic emotions, let alone complex thought processes such as empathising, planning for the future, learning and problem solving or acting with altrusim in ways that go against the “survival of the fittest” evolutionary paradigm, despite mounting and irrefutable scientific evidence to the contrary which states, in fact, that animals (including sheep, pigs, chickens and cattle) are way more emotionally complex and intelligent than we perceive them to be. If you are one of the handful of people reading this who might be interested in learning more about animal intelligence, here’s an excellent talk by animal scientist Jonathan Balcombe. Skip the cheesy intro and go to 4:10 for the talk.

However, if your cultural prejudices prevent you from seriously entertaining such notions despite the massive weight of the scientific evidence that supports assertions of animal intelligence, it is understandable, because it’s an extremely powerful set of deeply ingrained values that allow us to believe we are rightfully justified in exploiting animals for their meat and other products, so read on. I mean, you didn’t get to the top of the food chain to eat lettuce, right? (I can assure you though, if you were placed unarmed and naked, which is our natural state, in a cage with a lion, tiger, polar bear or other large predator, the “top of the food chain” chain myth would very quickly be dispelled). Eating or not eating meat is no longer merely a question of ethics and morals relating to animals. It has now become one of the most pressing issues related to the survival of humankind on this planet. And no, this information does not come from “bleedin’ heart bunny hugging” animal rights organisations or other such fringe groups that you can conveniently brush off as being well-meaning but ignorant fanatics and lunatics. No, this information comes from years of exhaustive, comprehensive research by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, whose damning report on the massive destruction caused by the global livestock industry directly correlates our appetite for meat with being one of the “major causes of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, including global warming, land degradation,  air and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.” The full report can be found here.

That “Happy Meal” you just enjoyed was perhaps not so “happy” after all. In fact, it most likely caused the equivalent environmental destruction of detonating a few sticks of shrapnel-strapped dynamite in a life-dense rainforest, as well as pouring a few barrels of highly toxic sludge into a river and releasing a hot-air-balloon sized ball of noxious gas into the atmosphere. It also took the food out of a starving child’s mouth, because “82% of the world’s starving children live in countries where food is fed to animals that are then killed and eaten by more well off individuals in developed countries.

Our voracious collective appetite for fish and seafood is just as destructive and if it continues unabated, the world’s oceans, once thought to be an inexhaustible resource, may well be devoid of most life by 2048. Modern commerical trawling practices also cause massive destruction as they tear up the ocean bed and kill everything from turtles to dolphins along with the fish that they are actually trying to catch.

We also rely extremely heavily on non-renewable, finite resources such as oil and petrochemical products (including plastics, which are one of the worst polluters and destroyers of the environment), to fuel our lifestyles of laziness, instant gratification and convenience, not giving even a moment’s thought to the destruction it causes or how unsustainable such a dependency is. We waste fresh water with abandon, treating it as if it were some infinitely-available commodity, rather than something which may well run dry and cause the greatest ecological crisis in human history within our lifetimes. (Just to return briefly to the meat thing, the livestock industry is one of the greatest water wasters on the planet, as well as being one of the biggest polluters of streams and rivers.) We waste electricity daily, not paying any thought to the fact that it mostly comes from the burning of coal and other non-renewable and heavily-polluting fossil fuels. And the saddest thing about all of these wasteful behaviors is that we believe that it is our inherent right to act in this manner, and that any alternative would result in an unacceptably egregious reduction in our standard of living, whereas quite the opposite is true; when one starts to live in a way that is compassionate, sustainable, and considerate to the poor and meek of the earth, one derives a far greater sense of satisfaction from life than from living for fleeting, temporary hits to satisfy brief and addictive cravings.

So this is what I’m essentially proposing in this piece: that slacktivism is not a bad thing in itself, but it can reinforce and excuse apathetic behaviour with its “quick-fix” ineffectiveness, and the bottom line about it is that it is simply not enough on its own to steer us from the course towards inevitable self-destruction that we have set ourselves upon with our wasteful, exploitative lifestyles of casual indifference, instant gratification and selfish convenience. We (and I include myself in this – like every person on this planet, I am nowhere near perfect and have plenty of my own vices) need to turn the lens upon ourselves and figure out what changes and sacrifices we personally need to make to work together for the greater good of humanity and our planet.

It is only through changing ourselves that true change for a sustainable, compassionate future can come about. And this will not happen by sitting back and clicking buttons on a computer…

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Why Trapjaw?

So you’re here. You’re thinking, “well this is interesting/boring/stupid/witty/pedestrian/riveting etc etc etc,” but you’re probably also wondering what the Trapjaw thing is all about.

Well, if you’ve read this post, you’ll understand why I chose the Masters of the Universe theme to colour this corner of cyberspace, but I didn’t quite go into details about why I chose Trapjaw specifically. To be honest, there are a multitude of layers regarding the imagery and symbolism conjured up by this strange, blue-skinned character that appeal to me and are relevant in some way to aspects of myself. I could go into a lot of depth, I suppose, and here’s my Literature degree begging to speak, but I don’t think that a literary essay is necessary here.

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“The Menace of Trapjaw!”

Firstly, the most basic connection is that when I was a child, he was a perennial favourite of mine in terms of Masters of the Universe characters.  His position would temporarily be replaced by other characters with whom I’d develop momentary obsessions, such as Beast-Man, Merman, Clawful, Whiplash and Webstor.  As you can see, I was solely interested in the villains of the series.  To me, they were a lot more visually and conceptually interesting than the heroes, who were usually purely human characters such as He Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms and Ram-Man.  They looked normal (well, with their hulk-like muscles and strangely disproportionate leg length, relatively normal) and this didn’t captivate my interest.  The bad guys looked cool; they were true monsters in the visual sense of the word, and this appealed to my young artist’s mind.  Instead of the boring peach-tone human skin, I could use my whole palette of crayon colours to draw these bad boys.

I especially liked ones that were as different from the others as possible.  Most of the figurines were cast from exactly the same mold, meaning that He-Man had exactly the same body as Skeletor, Tri-Klops, Zodac and pretty much every other character, bar some different feet and a “hairy” chest here or there.  Trapjaw, however, had completely unique legs, with armour plating and green, glowing panels (at least that’s what they were in my mind’s eye).  He had a wickedly cool robotic arm with three interchangeable mountable weapons, and of course that moveable and menacing jaw.  And his crimson helmet reminded me a lot, perhaps subconsciously, of my father’s crimson motorcycle helmet that he wore at the time.

Also, Trapjaw seemed to be completely unavailable in Pietermaritzburg, although my neighbour managed to find one, along with almost every other character in the series. I do remember seeing a Trapjaw figurine once in the OK supermarket in the middle of town, but I’d usually only get one of these figurines on my birthday or for Christmas, or some other special occasion, and that time was none of those.  We all know how infinitely more desirable something becomes, especially to a child, when it seems unobtainable…

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The image of Trapjaw that was on the back of every MOTU box. It was captioned “Trapjaw – Evil and Armed for Combat”.

Now let’s shift time-frames out of the early 80s and nearer to the present. So why Trapjaw now? What’s relevance does a childhood fascination have for my life as a 30-year-old man? Well, about a decade ago, when I first starting getting into internet forums (the internet was rather late in arriving to South African shores), and I needed to pick a user name, it seemed lame to just call myself “jon1982” or some variant thereof. I racked my brains for something suitable; something short, simple and easy to remember that was also somehow relevant to me personally, and the image of that childhood obsession popped into my mind. I was drumming in a Durban-based punk band called Stanley Anvil at the time, and all of the guys in the band had a great liking for vintage 80s action figures, and this rekindled my own interest in childhood nostalgia. Indeed, when I tried to quit the band (I loved the guys and the music, but the commute from Pietermaritzburg to Durban to rehearse was a killer, both in terms of time and petrol money in my mom’s juice-sucking ‘1969 Beetle), they bribed me to stay with a Trapjaw figurine!

Anyway, this brought the old half-orc, half-robot hybrid to my mind, and I decided that his name would be a suitable handle for my online alter-ego. It seemed that there was more to it than mere nostalgic fondness, though; I had more in common with Trapjaw than I thought. I had been frequently referred to as a “machine” due to my furious and frenetic drumming style – half-man, half-machine, just like Trapjaw. Like his interchangeable weapons on his right hand, I liked to think that I had a small but decent set of skills that I could switch between at will. And, the cherry on top: like Trapjaw, I have a metal lower jaw. Well, not entirely metal. It is still composed of bone, but due to a pretty severe motorcycle accident in which my lower jaw was snapped in two places, I now had two titanium plates permanently affixed to my jawbone (no, they don’t set off airport metal detectors).

So there you have it; the reason for my choice of Trapjaw as an online alter-ego. Feeling enlightened? Good… let’s move on 🙂

Genesis.

Writing. That’s the word, isn’t it? That’s what it’s all about, right? This blog, in a microcosmic sense of the word, and to apply a more grandiose presumption, my life.  But what, in a sense, is writing all about, at least, in the very personal context of my own perception?  That’s what’s at the core of this whole thing.

Writing is storytelling. And storytelling is inextricably interwoven with language and song, forming the core threads of the rope that binds us, Generation Z, lazing our lives away in front of luminescent computer screens here in the 21st century, with our primeval ancestors who shivered in caves around smoky campfires and prayed to forgotten stone idols to give them the courage and strength and shaky faith in their flint spears to protect them from the fangs of the sabre-toothed tiger, or to provide the tribe with a mammoth kill to see them through the long, cold winter.

A writer is what I’ve wanted to be for as long as I can remember. Or, to be more precise, a storyteller, for this was a dream that germinated from seeds that were sowed long before I was able to read the letters of the Roman alphabet. It all started when I was three years old. I remember it as clearly as if it were but a few weeks ago, although the notion of the toddler I was then has long since disappeared into the faltering mists of time. My father took me one Saturday morning, as he often did, to the local mall a few blocks away from my house. The word “mall” is perhaps not quite the most accurate term to describe the single strip of around a dozen stores that constituted the Scottsville Shopping Centre in those days, although to my wide eyes it was a continent long, especially if one lost sight of those familiar fatherly knees and calves in a forest of giant-limbs that soared up beyond the sight of one’s toddler-vision. I know that I was three years old because this was before I started attending pre-primary school in 1986 (“kindergarten”, as it is known in other parts of the world). Anyway, to cut a long story short, my father, after he had payed his routine visits to the bank and the post office, decided to stop in with me at the local CNA (a stationery slash book slash toy store). And it was from there that he bought me my first ever Masters of the Universe action figure; a small but not insignificant gift, for it was to forever alter the course of my life.

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Zodac – my first ever Masters of the Universe figurine. He was part of the original 1981 lineup.

I remember that my father picked out the toy for me, because although I was excited about getting a toy, the array of MOTU figurines lined up on the CNA shelves was rather bewildering and I had no urgent preference for any particular one.  However, upon arriving home and tearing the little plastic being from its factory-sealed prison, I discovered a wonderful surprise concealed behind the figurine: a small comic.  I eagerly began paging through the little comic and the gears of my sapling mind began whirring with a turbocharged freneticism that I had never before experienced.  The pictures, the colours, the action; all of this appealed keenly to something deep inside of me. I demanded that my father read me the comic, which he did, delighted at the success of his purchase. I’d page through the comic again and again, and get my father to read it to me as often as he was willing to.  Later, as I collected more MOTU comics, the imaginary world that had been born in my mind began to grow and develop.  I began inventing my own MOTU characters, whom I would talk excitedly about with my best friend James at preschool (we bonded especially well over our shared MOTU obsession), and we would pretend to be these characters as we fought imaginary battles and raced through fantastic landscapes on the grassy and undulating playground of New England Pre-Primary.  At home, all my parents needed to do to amuse me was to give me a stack of blank white paper and my box of Crayola 24-colour crayons, and I’d be lost in my own world for a few hours, drawing MOTU characters and other fantastic creatures that I’d create in my mind.

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some of the original series of MOTU comics that I owned.

Later, when I learned to read in grade one, I discovered a new favorite place: the town library.  I honestly could not get enough books, and I devoured them with as much ferocity as my newly-literate mind and still-rather-limited vocabulary could handle. There were the usual childhood reads; Dr Seuss classics, Richard Scarry’s books, The Berenstain Bears, Curious George and of course a number of classic Ladybird fairy tales and fables, but honestly, I was most interested in non-fiction back then, interestingly enough; the stories of characters in far away worlds or other times and places in human history took a back seat to the real life stories of wild animals.  I became utterly obsessed with finding out as much as I could about wild animals, to the extent that when I had exhausted the supply of materials in the Children’s section of the library, I’d get my parents to check out books for me from the adult section. I’d set out my blank papers at home, and on the right hand paper, I’d copy out a full-sized picture of whichever animal I was documenting with my crayons, and on the left I’d compile, in my shaky six-year-old hand, a list of facts and figures about the animal.  After I’d put together a good few pages, I’d staple them together (well, my mother would do that for me), and I’d draw a front and back cover for my book.  I was self-publishing long before anyone had ever imagined the existence of Createspace or Lulu!

Later my interest shifted to history (I was big into knights and pirates, mostly), and then as my reading skill developed to the point where I was comfortably able to handle novels, I became an insatiable devourer of fiction. I entertained the notion of writing my own stories from an early age, and actually started a few out, with the intention of making them novels, but I never managed to finish them.  In my teenage years, I put down my pen for a while and picked up drumsticks, as the raging, angst-ridden sounds of grunge, punk and alternative rock spoke to a newly-awakened part of my adolescent soul that screamed rebellion with an irresistible fire, but always, at the back of my mind, were the stories, the stories, the stories.

Now, after turning around in my head since those nostalgia-thick days of early childhood, these stories are finally taking form and shape in the physical world.  I am adding my own string to the vast and unending thread of human history and culture; I am writing, and writing with a pace and fury and determination that I have never had the courage to harness before.  Hopefully my writing, my stories, will form a thread that spans decades and lasts for the length of my own lifetime, and perhaps this addition to the rope of the aeon-old tradition of storytelling will extend to generations who are born after my own return to the dust from whence I came, although that is perhaps too lofty a height to aim for right now.

But, what is a dream if not an unreachable ideal?  I will grasp as fully as I can at this one, and see what my fingertips eventually encircle.