Friday, August 25, 2017

Guest Post: Politics, Philosophy, and the Art of the Novel By John Corry

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I asked John Corry to send me an author bio, and I think maybe he accidentally forwarded his dating profile instead. Anyway, this is what he sent.)
6'1"; 27 years old; Cannibal Corpse, Taylor Swift, Eminem enthusiast; Philly; Single
John is the author of The Zombie Ritual: A Second Coming (A Narrative Intro to Plato's Forms)
When a zombie outbreak puts a teenage dance party to a violent end, lovestruck metalhead Chuck Zelmer finds himself in a bloody, graphic and academically philosophic chase through the halls of the Bed and Breakfast where the party took place.

In 380 BC, the ancient Greek philosopher Plato (no, not the children’s plaything (in a manner of speaking)) wrote his classic Republic.
You’d have to have been living under a rock in the western world to at least not have heard of Plato, and, likely, his ‘masterwork’, Republic (rock? Or a shadow of one?...). In it, Plato lays out the foundations for much of what has become ‘Western Civilization’ in the centuries since it was written; the ideas of democracy, oligarchy, and tyranny were all laid out in writing for the first time in Republic, and its idea of ‘the philosopher ruler’ (or: ‘king’, depending on your translation) is likely the cornerstone from which much political thought has grown into action (the idea of ‘the philosopher ruler’: that progressing mankind is not rested on ‘philosopher rulers’ or ‘kings’ ruling over the rest of mankind as some sort of birth-righted divine being sent only from God, but that ‘philosophers’ are the ones who should be ‘ruling’, if ruling is necessary, because being a ‘philosopher’ is knowing that ‘being a philosopher’ is not exactly all pats on the back and yacht parties).
Among many achievements, many credit Plato with creating what is now the modern novel, and it is not ironic that the claim comes as an ode to a ‘philosopher’ such as that guy (Plato). Plato wrote primarily in dialogues, with settings and characters, albeit not developed in any narrative way (nor too often applicable to the ideas discussed in the dialogues), talking about the meaning of life, death, and why so many people seem to love hurting so much. What is a novel if not a discussion of those things, or a representation of them? And what does ‘the meaning of life, death, and why so many people seem to love hurting so much’ have to do with seeing the world objectively? How does one do that?
Being a writer in any time of political intrigue is to play quite a role, and consciously. No writer goes about writing thinking: ‘this has nothing to do with the world around me.’ It’s a given. You are a product of your environment, just as your decisions, as everyone else’s, affect what that environment is. Writing anything, but especially novels given their ability to cross over emotional and political lines if written well enough, is particularly guilty of this, as, further, recording anything puts a bit more of a lasting immediacy to it. Being a writer in times such as these (‘times such as these’? 2017: the age of confusion, fake news #AllHandsMatter , immaturity, HATE) also brings with it something else of quite the dissociational article: writers are affected by these things, by current events, facts and other people. You wanna call it emotionally, intellectually, scientifically, I-don’t-care, if you’re a halfway decent writer, part of your job is to see and understand the world in a deeper and more relatable way, through one aspect to most effectively convey both emotions and understandings to other people, and through another because you, yourself, simply can’t stop doing it (seeing and understanding the world in a deeper and more relatable way), for whatever (natural?) reason (no, no; ‘egotistical’ is way more likely).
I don’t mean to say that writers are any more prone to emotion than anyone else, or that they have any more of a ‘right’ to be, or a ‘job’ to be, but that they are likely expected to attempt to understand them little better, at least subjectively, and, more so, that we all have the capacity to be ‘writers’, in that we all are trying to make sense of the world around us and do so through the veil of facts, knowledge and emotion. At a time when political upheaval, and public interest in it, is more abundant than bad pop music, this ability is more important, and observable, than ever (this, of course, assuming that most people do want to grow as humans, and not just indulge in one of those three ‘veils’ just mentioned (facts, knowledge, and emotion)).
For one trying to make sense of all this, it can be a little disheartening. I mean, damn, dude, have you looked around lately? Canada now has laws enabling the government to forcibly take your child away if they deem your parenting skills not ‘progressive’ enough, The U.S. is almost literally tearing itself apart (again), Bangledesh is practically under water, and, meanwhile, nobody is really talking about these things–they’re screaming about them. ‘My experience doesn’t care about your facts!’, ‘facts don’t care about your feelings!’, ‘your feelings, facts, or knowledge is WRONG and, therefore, you are not a human being!’ Maybe there is something the anti Bill C-16 people (a controversial Canadian bill that ‘adds gender identify or expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian human rights act’) are missing? Maybe the situation in North Korea is as complicated as it seems? Maybe ‘people’ never change? Maybe democracy is fundamentally flawed? These are questions that need to be debated dialectically and that simply does not happen by yelling and screaming and ignoring the existence of other people, no matter how ‘evil’.
Grappling with these questions in any sort of personally constructive manner (‘writing’ (see: psychologist Carl Jung’s ‘experiments’ regarding patients and art)) can of course become difficult when the world seems to beat you mercilessly at your own game at every turn, which I, personally, like to think that I can attest to rather well: Pussygate?! Colin Kaepernick? Trudaeu’s abs?! PIZZAGATE?!?!?! How could anybody ever come up with this stuff, fiction writer, journalist, plumber or whoever?! It’s like ‘Survivor’ got stacked with the characters from ‘Jersey Shore’ who then all got thrown into a Dostoevsky novel whose main theme was: ‘what do you think of InfoWars’ Alex Jones’! The word count alone would be insane!!! You add in the character that is Vladimir Putin, the ridiculousness of the situation in Asia, and the potency of the one in the Middle East, and you got a novel more gripping, emotionally vast, and as psychologically on-point than any Plato, Stephen King, Jung, or Dostoevsky could ever even dream of!
Not in a million years would anyone believe that the things happening in the political spectrum right now actually happened if it weren’t for the fact that it is all actively being recorded in real time, as it happens. Perhaps this renders the writer’s ability to merely represent it obsolete #PostmodernismIsARealTHing,ButItIsNotAnAbsolute ? Representations are always needed, so long as they are bringing into focus something that is not obvious in the original thing which it is representing. May there be ways to ‘represent’ something that are not found in traditional textbooks or even the all-wise passed-down spoken word?
If politics has any relation to the idea of ‘power’, or, more importantly for my point here, Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’, it is that politics is essentially a focus of power, or are Nietzsche’s will to power in-action. If any ‘political power’ wanted to expand itself, as any primitive entity does (remember: in relation to how long homo-sapiens have been a species (roughly 200,000 years), the time between Plato (380 BC (ish)) and now is but a blip on the map; and the concepts of economics and psychology, both so important, complicated, and implicative of ‘the meaning of life’, and how a species may go about that question, were both just created within the past 250 years), all it would have to do is blur the ability of ‘the writer’ to make sense of the world around her. If a political power, or: a group of Individuals, wanted absolute power, all they would have to do is hinder the capabilities of its potential subordinates to ‘think’ or ‘will’ ‘sense’.
The ‘writer’/‘philosopher’ conveys personal emotions (and ‘thought’) through the cover of a quasi-reality, or at least a reality meant to represent itself as such, in the mind, in that bridge where the conscious meets the unconscious (Jung). This ability can be psychologically taken away by any number of factors–through stopping the writer from making sense of her feelings, or from feeling anything in the first place (L), or through hindering her ability to create realistic worlds, the list could be quite large–but once it is, people no longer have a guide through which Understanding is presented as not only possible, but also preferable. ‘Power’ is the antithesis to ‘Understanding’; one is based in a primal survival instinct, the other in an intellectual one.
I’ve been working on a satirical crime noir examining the questions of police brutality, political correctness, and gang culture through the eyes of a group of college kids too stupid to know that alcohol consumption impairs judgment. I could get depressed at how difficult it can be given what’s been going on politically lately (as I certainly at times have), or I can use that to make it better. Every time I look at the news, and realize that reality has beaten me to the punch on one of my points, it forces me to reexamine my stance and, far more importantly, the way I’m going about showing it through my ‘fictional’ characters, plot turns and overall story. There’s not much difference between doing that and growing as a human being, novels just tend to take fewer hours to get through than lifetimes (hopefully).
The art of the novel, and its importance, has never been more apparent. The ancient version of ‘why?’ is today ‘how?’ (terminologically speaking). Let ‘them’ show us what the difference is; we’ll show ‘them’ that it’s not about ‘the difference’.

It’s about ‘this’.

Twitter: @RevolutionizedW 

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