Friday, August 29, 2014

Excerpt from a work in progress

Here, below, is an excerpt from a work in progress, a set of essays on the state of our nation. This book was started quite a while ago, and as my calendar is clearing, I've started picking up some of those manuscripts, updating them, and putting them up on kindle, nook, and smashwords as e-books. This project is several weeks, or maybe a few months, away, but here is a sample:

But this constant barrage of affront over the state of our nation and our world rarely if ever addresses the fundamental issues that now face the United States, namely, energy dependence, scientific ignorance, and global human population rapidly evolving into everything foreign, if not downright frightening, to our archetypical American. Every day we are bombarded with an emotionally wrenching mixture of our heroes’ deaths and dismemberments (American soldiers in Iraq; reporters beheaded by ISIS), misbehavior on college campuses (Duke lacrosse), the malignant disintegration of our nation’s system of higher education (Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado), and mysterious, probably violent, usually sickeningly so, death and disappearance, usually of attractive and innocent young women (Natalie Holloway). Every such day also takes up another of Earth’s revolutions during which humans destroy, probably for the foreseeable future, 72,000 acres of tropical forest (= most of the genetic information that spells life on Earth), produce an additional 232,000 of themselves and bury over 150,000 (3,300 of them killed by other humans), consume 76,000,000 barrels of oil, and harvest 380,000 tons of seafood from the world’s vast oceans.

Sometimes I wonder, if we could time travel back 20,000 years and sit down around the fire with a Cro-Magnon clan, whether we’d be listening to tales of a baby’s death, or a man’s violation of tradition, or how an earthquake killed a fine hunter, or whether the elders would be seriously discussing what Cro-Magnon might become when the mammoths were all gone. Was anyone thinking about how their lives might be changed if they could only make some plants produce fruit or edible seeds when and where the people wanted them to instead of when and where some gods directed this food to appear. For some reason I always end up imagining the former conversations instead of the latter—the mourning of a child’s accident, the bragging about having killed a particularly angry bison bull, the stupidity of a neighboring clan, instead of a careful plan to diversify resources, a serious talk about the factors that actually determine the level of satisfaction with their lives, and the cost of belligerence in general. Maybe Bill O-Reilly, and Fox News are actually in our genes. Or at least some of our genes. Among the Cro-Magnons, somebody crawled hundreds of yards through narrow passages to find a place where elegant drawings could be made, drawings that stand the test of time, millennia, in fact. Maybe that somebody got tired of listening to Og trying to impress the women with tales of how he killed a bullock single-handedly and decided to explore the meaning of the clan’s relationships to wild animals in the only literary way he knew: red ochre on a rock wall.

See smashwords and kindle for a list of my e-books. The latest one, BERNICE AND JOHN: FINALLY MEETING YOUR PARENTS WHO DIED A LONG TIME AGO - is a pretty good one, especially if you're from Oklahoma or have any interest in the gasoline that powers your automobile.

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