Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge

I totally agree with what Horace says. How about you?

Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge.

What’s wrong with this picture?

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I really despair for a nation when its youth shows a clear lack of interest in bettering themselves. Yesterday I took a look at a series of one star reviews by teenagers for books which their schools require them to read such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Homer’s The Iliad and many more. In this particular instance the nation in question is the United States of America. While I smiled at what was written there, its no laughing matter. To me it shows that something is seriously wrong in Western society today.

I’m not saying that all young American’s are illiterate by any means. But when many other country’s children cry out for education, devouring everything they are taught, why is it that the same can’t be said for some Western nations, particularly those deemed to be leaders? We should be setting an example, not showing clear evidence of decline!

Here in the UK a large percentage of our own youth show the same lack of enthusiasm for education, preferring their smartphones and the inevitable shorthand version of our language such as LOL instead of laugh out loud, along with spending hours playing games, either on their iphones, Tablets, Laptops or game consoles.

What happened to reading books? Playing computer games and using an incorrect abbreviated version of your language won’t educate you!!!

Being able to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide, along with reading and writing are just some of the fundamentals that every human being has the right to be able to master. In particular if you want a job, demonstrating your lack of education by being illiterate and inarticulate will ensure that you remain unemployed and a drain on your country.

When I was a callow youth, I was always useless at mathematics. Only three subjects ever mattered to me during my education, literature, geography and history. I spent every spare moment I had reading. Anyone can learn so much from great works of ancient literature like the Aeneid and The Illiad and more modern works such as the complete works of William Shakespeare, or from nineteenth and twentieth century writers.

Hells teeth! When a teenager believes that a book written by one of his or her fellow countrymen (in this case F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby, written in 1925) is a Victorian novel, what hope is there for the world especially when that child’s nation is a super power with weapons of mass destruction?

I’ve just finished reading the maxims written down over four thousand five hundred years ago by Ptah-Hotep the Egyptian seer. I wonder what those same moronic individuals would have to say about that if it was part of the required reading lists in high schools?

I hate to think…

A thought for the day

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With all that is happening in the world today, maybe it’s time to think about just what it is that makes the world such a troubled place. Scientists and theologians would have us believe that Earth is the only inhabited planet anywhere. I cannot believe that for a moment, although I do understand why another sentient species would be reluctant to want to visit us. 

Why would any peace loving race wish to come to a planet where the Earth’s most dangerous species, man, not only preys on other species, but also kills its own kind without a second thought?

With each passing year, I am sickened by our drive for greed and destruction. I doubt there has ever been another species in the long history of this planet that has done so much to try and end its existence than us. 

Why do we do it? What must it take to make us stop? Why can’t we simply live in peace without all the modern day side issues like wanting to invade our neighbour, or get the latest gadget, or buy that new refrigerator because the one we have is five years old.

I wrote my latest science fiction novel The Next Age over a few months without once thinking about money. The thing had been cluttering up my mind for ages. Finally it’s out of my head and published. 

Today, because of the stupid way we all live here on Earth; we are conditioned to find employment to earn money to survive. Why? What is this insane notion of money anyway? You can’t eat it. It won’t keep the rain off your head. What you pay a pound for today will cost you double or triple by tomorrow. Who says we have to use money to survive? Why should we have to spend all our lives chasing money? 

Most people you know (include yourself in this) are trapped in the never ending loop of earning, saving, and spending money. Why?

There are only two things you can be certain of in this world if you are reading this, you were born, and you will surely die. Where does money come into this except to hasten your demise by worrying about not having enough of it! 

When you are too old to contribute to a company, or too sick, you are thrown on the scrap heap and forgotten about as I was when I had my last total nervous breakdown back in 2003. Where does having money help here?

With spiraling inflation, or bad banking practice within the banking world, the money you have slavishly saved over your lifetime rapidly disappears down the monetary drain. So you swallow your pride and ask for a hand out from the state and what happens, you’re made to feel as if you are lower than pond scum – how dare you ask for help, go away and die you ungrateful wretch!

Any self respecting potential visitor to this planet would be justified in saying, “Nice looking place, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

Best Before

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If ever there was ever a term of recent times that absolutely makes my blood boil it is the title of this post – best before, or its equally nonsensical and totally misleading other incarnation – the sell by date.

How many people today throw away perfectly good food products simply because they see these words on the package, dreamt up by businesses in collusion with the EU and other controlling enterprises to maintain the turnover of stock? Sadly in the western world the answer is in the billions. Landfill sites in practically every western nation are full of unused food products, which prior to being dumped were perfectly serviceable.

Here in the UK from time to time I read about people seriously down on their luck being prosecuted as thieves for raiding the bins of supermarket chains in order to make use of perfectly good food discarded because it has gone beyond its sell by date. Bringing charges against starving homeless people for making use of the food in question boggles the mind.  After all, no one gets arrested when those self same people go to a food bank!

Now we move to a subject which I have had bitter personal experience of – being thrown on the scrap heap, made redundant in my mid fifties due to a breakdown; considered by the business world to be far too expensive to remain in their employment because of my age and experience. In other words, people like myself who had reached their own best before date. I’m happy to say that since finally reaching the legal age of retirement, I’m finally free from the endless financial worry inflicted upon me by tight fisted employers refusing to consider me for anything other than a low paid job, usually labouring on a building site.

My generation, the baby boomers born at the end of World War Two, have got our government seriously worried. So much so that they want to raise the retirement age to seventy, because according to them we cost far too much to maintain. What the ingrates conveniently forget is that we were paying taxes long before they were even a twinkle in their father’s eye.

Retirement is our reward. But judging by my own recent experience fighting with cold hearted bureaucracy in the form of the UK Department of Work and Pensions, to get them to pay me what I was owed in the form of the State Pension, official recognition for a lifetime of paying tax (granted not all of it here in the UK), really hurt them – bless.

What the tossers in the various government departments need to realize is that unlike food products, humans don’t go off until we naturally expire. We merely continue to enrich ourselves as we grow older. While my body may have now slowly but surely broken down, my mind, the thing that controls my every function, act and thought, has never been sharper. I had my first novel published when I was sixty-two. I also write short stories, blog posts like this and articles on a daily basis.

Since I retired earlier this month, I am now free from the incessant and unwarranted meddling in my daily life by the world of governmental bureaucracy. I no longer interest them thank goodness since I passed beyond my own sell by date.

In most non-western countries the older generations are venerated for their experience and knowledge gained during their lifetime. They are listened to and learned from by the younger generation, but not here in the UK.

We of the older generation have much to offer the young, despite what government bureaucracy believes. While we may no longer play any active part in the workplace we still have a lot to offer. As an OAP here in the UK, if you are lucky you will usually be ignored or barely tolerated, or at best considered a nuisance – I think you get my drift here.

That term should actually read – best after, not best before…

Warning – This post contains explicit references to sheer insanity!

POOR LADY! ALL SHE NEEDS IS MORE IODINE! Looks kind of scarey at first glance, then I noticed her neck. She has a goiter as well-- I saw this quite a bit in Mexico and witnessed several thyroidectomies. Very sad because it is so easy to correct.

As long as I live one thing will always puzzle and perplex me – the gullibility of my fellow human beings. We blindly follow doctrinal notions like mindless sheep, never daring to question one specific notion still deeply ingrained from a time long past (any form of religion), or more so these days, the latest to be promoted heavily by the pseudo-scientific community.

It has oft been quoted that religion is the opiate of the masses. How true has that statement become over the thousands of years since we first gazed up at the sky, convinced that all powerful gods controlled us and our world?

Personally, I saw through the sheer hypocrisy of the high church Anglicanism I was born into by the time I turned seven. The private school I attended in 1950’s England had compulsory religious studies as the predominant subject of its curriculum. To get top marks in it back then was far more important than how you did in all of the other badly taught subjects. Saying our daily prayers was compulsory along with corporal punishment for those like me who committed the slightest misdemeanor, such as just sitting there in silence as I often did, while the rest loudly recited their prayers.

Almost two thousand years ago when the first Roman Empire finally crashed and burned, those who deemed themselves to be the leaders of roman society at the time, desperately needed to remain in control of their former empire, its masses and its wealth. And so those same patrician former senators became the ruling elite of the new second Roman Empire, which still exists to this day, in its guise as the Roman Catholic Church. They took on the various responsibilities of pope (emperor) and cardinal (senator) after Constantine adopted the new eastern religion shortly before his death to clear his conscience for all the barbaric acts he was responsible for in the eastern empire.

What better way to continue to control the masses and carry on accumulating wealth than to place fear in the minds of the masses, this time with the notion of heaven and hell while also tithing them; heaven for those who behaved themselves, towing the line, paying the tithe and working themselves into an early grave for their masters, and hell for those who did not. Surely this was a far better solution than the former practice of putting them to the sword if they objected to the decrees of their masters. Oh no, wait a minute, silly me. They still carried on with that bloody practice, except this time they crossed themselves and sought absolution for their sins from their new style priests!

To make use of the death of a falsely accused Palestinian Jewish carpenter, who died horribly when he was crucified for wanting freedom for his people from roman oppression to further their nefarious politico/religious ends, apart from being two-faced, was pure genius. What better way to continue to divide and conquer than by promoting their new religion. Bow down and pray to a dead man as if he was somehow a new form of roman deity, thereby continuing their age old former pagan belief system – brilliant!

Down the millennia our ancestors have blindly followed without question everything religion in its many forms has proclaimed. Sadly this is the norm for the masses of the world that still cling desperately to the concept of any form of religion today, unable to stand on their own two legs and accept what life brings.

Before you proclaim me the spawn of Satan, just ask yourself this question; how many wars have been fought purely for religious reasons over the centuries, and who died in them? People like you and me that’s who. Our so-called leaders, secular or religious, hardly ever did or do even to this day. It is always the nation’s youth who get sent to the battlefront. In their fiendish minds it is far better for thousands of ordinary people like us to perish, be we Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu – feel free to insert your own religion here.

For a while in the twentieth century, a new political religion appeared when the Russian Bolsheviks adopted and twisted the philosophical writings of Carl Marx and Friedrich Engels to suit their own ends, into yet another way of controlling the masses. Fortunately it didn’t last long thank goodness.

***

These days the western world, with one or two major exceptions, has a new religion. It is called environmentalism.

The twenty-first century environmental version of religious zealots are currently engaged in playing on our naiveté yet again by telling us that the latest global warming phenomena is all our fault, based on extremely dubious scientific evidence. They conveniently ignore the fact that our planet naturally cycles itself constantly between periods of warmth and cold, dependent on its varied perturbations around our star – the sun. The acolytes of this new religion are using their weak arguments to make us feel guilty and cough up money (Carbon Offsetting) – yet another brilliant con.

Its funny how those same environmentalists have completely ignored or forgotten what happened to New Zealand when a large hole appeared in the Ozone layer at the bottom of the world. Thanks to the hole, thousands of Kiwis like myself are suffering from various skin cancers, but do the environmentalists care? Do the politicians? No, because skin cancer is non taxable unlike Carbon emissions.

Unless or until we humans blindly stop following doctrines, be they religious, political or pseudo-scientific, we will continue along the same mindless path we have always trodden like sheep since Adam purportedly appeared in the Garden of Eden. Come to think of it has anyone definitively located the mythical garden and its tree of knowledge yet? We humans could sure use some right now along with a large helping of plain unvarnished common sense.